Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers said they want comprehensive campaign finance reform but so far there has been no action in Albany as leaders continue to raise money under the existing laws, without providing much detail to the public. NY1 political reporter Zack Fink filed the following report.
Critics of the current system of campaign finance say running for office has grown so expensive that it's not necessarily the best candidates who win, but those who can raise the most cash.
"The way the system currently operates, it has two big effects. One is it keeps out a candidate who can't raise a significant amount of money and the other is it gives a big role for donors and bundlers and organizations that can deliver a significant amount of money to candidates,” said Richard Briffault of Columbia University Law School.
This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated his support for comprehensive reform of the state's campaign finance laws. But he also seemed to give himself an out in case it becomes politically unfeasible.
"Campaign finance is not currently in the top bracket of concern by the electorate, period. And the legislators aren't hearing enough about it,” Cuomo said.
"I think the public is concerned about the campaign finance system," Briffault said. "But I don't think the public has a good sense of the ins and outs and what can be done and what's being proposed. I think people are very troubled about the status of how we pay for campaigns."
The governor also suggested that the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which allows large donors and corporations to make unlimited contributions, makes it harder to impose restrictions locally.
"When you talk about local races, a campaign finance system like New York City makes a huge difference. It's much less likely that you are going to have these massive outside expenditures. When you talk about larger offices, citywide and statewide, Citizens United is a real problem,” said Manhattan State Sen. Daniel Squadron.
Squadron, who has been raising his own money as he eyes a possible run for public advocate in next year's citywide races, has a bill that makes the state system similar to New York City's. That includes donor limitations, greater disclosure and public financing.
"Look, it works in New York City. It hasn't made everything perfect but it's a whole lot better than what we had before. We could get that done in the state very quickly. The governor has a similar proposal,” Squadron said.