A Public Campaign Financing State of Mind?

January 7, 2011

In his State of the State address this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo advocated public financing of campaigns, an element of his campaign’s reform platform. As with most advocacy of campaign finance and government ethics reform in New York, one hears echoes of the past. For example, four years ago, in his first State of the State address, then Governor Elliot Spitzer indicated that the ultimate goal of reform should be “full” public financing. The omission of that quoted word signals the new governor’s preference for a matching funds program, like New York City’s, rather than a full public funding program like Arizona’s, which is now under judicial stress. Will New York City’s campaign finance law, so often cited as a model for the nation prove, after more than two decades in operation, to also be a model for the state? If so, what version of the NYC model will prevail – e.g., the 4:1 matching funds program (c. 1998) v. the 6:1 matching funds program (c. 2007)? Indeed, the details of NYC’s law have been and continue to be a moving target. For example, the City’s Campaign Finance Board is about to propose rules to implement the new Charter revision disclosure requirements for independent expenditures. Will the state follow suit or take a different path, presupposing, of course, that after three-plus decades of stasis there is actual movement this year.

Tags: New York CityNew York State