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New public financing system, same old party hacks

The state created a Public Financing Commission to reduce the role of big money in politics, but that won’t stop Governor Cuomo from milking the large donors for as long as he can. The New York Post reports that Cuomo’s campaign asked donors to give money to two fundraisers in December, one for Cuomo’s birthday. The asking price for a birthday fundraiser ticket? $1,000 (contributions of $25,000 are welcome).

It’s possible that Cuomo will be able to continue his fundraising practices for another three years: The Board of Elections recently recommended that the public financing program go into effect in November 2022. That means candidates for governor wouldn’t start using it until the 2026 elections.

This New York Times editorial is a good breakdown of how the Commission has gone awry:

  • To get a ballot line in New York state, your candidates need to collect an aggregate of 50,000 votes. The Commission is considering raising the threshold to 250,000. The only party that has come to close to that number is the Conservative Party. Cuomo nemesis the Working Families Party, notably, has not.
  • The Commission is considering matching only donations that come from in-district. Meaning that if you’re donating from out of district, your donation will only matter to a candidate if it’s very large.
  • The Commission is considering placing the new campaign finance system within the Board of Elections, an agency that remains notoriously dysfunctional.

In other words, with the way things are going, if you want fair elections in New York, you may have to wait a few more decades – unless, of course, we get out there and organize.

In other news:

  • Remember the Queens district attorney race? Remember how countless affidavit ballots that could have resulted in a win for Tiffany Caban were disqualified? And how the signing of a particular bill might have ensured that they were counted? That bill still hasn’t been signed by the Governor, sparking suspicions that the New York machine may be content to let certain ballots remain uncounted if it will keep them in power. The Governor, who once said he might sign the bill prior to this year’s elections, has until December 31st to make a decision.
  • WE DID IT! On Tuesday, NYC (overwhelmingly!) approved ranked choice voting, which will be implemented in local primary and special elections starting in 2021. If you voted for it, you probably already know how it makes elections fairer, less polarizing, and more diverse, and with 20 other cities making this change, it’s clear that RCV has the momentum.

    This is a huge step towards a stronger democracy, and it calls for some celebration! So grab a drink with us on Thursday, November 14 at Tir na Nog! 🍻

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