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Advocates Hold Rally To Call For Campaign Finance Reform

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Advocates are pushing for campaign finance reform at the state level, saying the issue is taking on added significance in light of the recent corruption arrests. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

An organization calling itself Fair Elections for New York held a Midtown rally Wednesday night, urging state leaders to adopt campaign finance reform.

The umbrella organization includes labor unions, good government groups and Organizing for Action, the grassroots coalition that worked on behalf of President Barack Obama's re-election.

This week, the group began running ads in New York.

Proponents of reform said the state should model its system on New York City's.

"In New York City, there is a 6 to 1 match," said Karen Scharff of Citizen Action. "If a small donor gives $10, the public then gives $60, and the candidate ends up with $70 out of that $10. And by doing that 6 to 1 match, the small donation is worth enough to candidates that they can run on small donations and be successful."

Labor unions favor reform, even though some argue that unions already have tremendous power in New York elections.

"We're still strong in New York, but when you add it all up, the corporate money still way outweighs what the unions do collectively," said Bob Master, CWA area director. "The insurance companies, the real estate industry."

Proponents said the corruption arrests highlight the need for limiting the influence of money in politics.

NY1 asked several state leaders if they think Malcolm Smith should resign his state Senate seat.

"It's very, very difficult when you are facing the types of charges that Senator Smith is facing to actually be able to serve his constituents," said Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. "I would certainly suggest that he consider resigning."

"These are serious charges," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. "If they are proven to be correct, I think, you know, he's ineffective right now as a legislator representing his district."

Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that he supports campaign finance reform and that he will push for it during the second half of the legislative session. He also pointed out, however, that Senate Republicans are ideologically opposed, which could make it difficult.

In the meantime, Cuomo is raising reams of cash under the current system, with more than $20 million in his campaign war chest for his re-election campaign next year.

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