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Please take our survey on fighting corruption in New York!

2020 is just a couple weeks away, and RepresentUs NYC wants to know how YOU would like to fight corruption in New York next year. Can you take our survey and let us know what issues you want to tackle?

Please see below for a short summary of all the issues in the survey. And if you have other ideas, feel to reach out to us at repusnyc@gmail.com.

Corruption issues and democracy reforms in NY

Allowing New York residents to do statewide ballot initiatives: New York State does not allow for citizen ballot initiatives (unlike NYC). A bill in the state legislature would change this. As this is a state bill, our chapter would need to build a coalition of organizations across the state to have a chance of getting it to pass.

Bundling: Bundling is a practice by which fundraisers circumvent campaign contribution limits to deliver huge donations to candidates. In New York City, you’re limited to donating $5,100 to a mayoral candidate, but if you have 9 rich friends, you can go out and ask them for the maximum donation can deliver more than $50,000 to the candidate. That’s called “bundling,” and it is a common practice among lobbyists. Our chapter could push for legislation that forbids lobbyists from bundling, as is the law in D.C.

Census drives: The census count is about to get underway, and parts of NYC – especially Brooklyn – are among the most undercounted in the nation. Our chapter can help make sure everyone gets counted.

Independent expenditures: In New York City, there are strict limits on how much lobbyists can donate to campaigns. However, lobbyists are permitted to donate unlimited amounts to groups that make independent expenditures on city races (PACs, etc.). A bill in the city council could limit these contributions. There are concerns about whether or not such a bill would survive the US Supreme Court.

Ranked Choice Voting for New York State: RCV came to NYC, but not yet to New York state. As this is a state matter, our chapter would need to build a coalition of organizations across the state to have a chance of getting it to pass.

Redistricting reform: NYC’s redistricting process is considered to be somewhat better than others, as elected officials don’t redraw districts directly – instead, they nominate members of a commission, who redraw the districts. However, current provisions in the law allow for too much variation, and commission members, though supposed to be independent, generally act on behalf of their nominators. Our chapter could push for legislation that requires more independent redistricting similar to what’s done in California and Arizona.

Shadow governments (nonprofits with government funding): New York gives a lot of money in nonprofits, which perform city services with taxpayer funds but lack many basic transparency requirements. Many of these nonprofits are affiliated with elected officials. In other words, NYC has a shadow government operating without taxpayer oversight. Our chapter could push for legislation to reform nonprofits, particularly those affiliated with elected officials.

Transparency in campaign finance: Candidates for office in NYC raise a lot of money, but what industries does that money come from? A bill in the NYC city council would make it easier for voters to find out. It would require that the city’s voter guide contain pie charts showing what industries each individual candidate in NYC received the majority of their contributions from.

Voter registration: Hundreds of thousands of people are still not registered to vote in New York, which until recently had some of the nation’s most stringent and antiquated registration laws. Our chapter can go out and make sure everyone’s registered ahead of the presidential and state primaries (in a nonpartisan fashion, of course).

Campaign war chests: Candidates can accumulate huge sums in their campaign accounts and transfer them to campaign accounts for other offices they decide to run for. A potential bill in the city council would require candidates to get written permission from past donors to transfer funds, as well as terminate “zombie” committees that aren’t being used for any races.

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