“Once again, the governor and speaker have given us an omnibus bill with a cute title and a poison pill that will cost the taxpayers dearly,” began Assemblyman Joe Borelli (R,C,I-Staten Island). “They’re ultimately saying, ‘we have a problem and your wallet is the solution.’”

“We all want to address public corruption and increase the penalties for those who violate the public trust, but each of the proposals should be debated and voted on individually on its merits. To lump a proposal to match campaign contributions with taxpayer money 6 to 1 is just plain wrong and counterproductive,” said Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I-Staten Island).

“Only in Albany can one suggest that the solution to having too much money in politics is to add more money to politics. Was it not just a few weeks ago that legislators were charged with, among other things, conspiring to defraud the city’s public finance system? It’s foolish to think that that system ought to serve as some sort of model,” said Borelli.

“In fact, The New York City public finance system is a narrative of failure,” continued Borelli. “Between 2001 and 2011, 24 candidates have been investigated for misuse of $13,924,189 in taxpayer funds. In a legislature consisting of only fifty-one members, that is not a good record. When we look at other ‘model’ states, we see a similar pattern. In Arizona and Maine, twenty-two candidates for state office stand accused.”

“While the intent of the proposal is to stop corruption in state government, the truth is that public financing actually encourages corruption and, worst of all, puts taxpayers on the hook for the bill. To mimic the city’s failed public financing system would be misguided and an assault on taxpayers. In 2009, city taxpayers were slammed for roughly $27 million to fund matching grants. If the same percentage of candidates used maximum funding in a full-ballot year on the state level, taxpayers could be on the hook for over $321 million. To reach into the pockets of New Yorkers suffering from skyrocketing taxes and program reductions to fund personal, political gain is shameful, and an example of government at its worst,” said Malliotakis.

“The cost of this proposal is also staggering. In the last citywide election cycle, the NYC Campaign Finance Board (CFB) distributed over $27 million. In the State Legislature, which has over four times the seats and double the frequency of elections, the bill may top $200 million during the same period. The NYC CFB is an agency with ninety-one employees and annual operational budget of $21 million. Again, this means the state program may top $150 million. It’s disgusting to think that this money could be used to restore cuts for the disabled, or to offset this year’s increases in utility taxes. I am sure my constituents would prefer lower utility bills over paying Sheldon Silver’s campaign bills,” said Borelli.

“The real hypocrisy is that of the governor and Speaker Silver. It’s easy and disingenuous to change the campaign rules after they’ve already collected millions upon millions of hard and soft money for the next cycles,” concluded Borelli.

Notes:
Farrell, Jason. Clean Elections and Scandal: Case Studies from Maine, Arizona and New York City, Center For Comparative Politics. September 22, 2011.

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