Bloomberg’s spending is why we need campaign finance reform
The issue of money in politics is back in the spotlight this week, as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg continues his rise in Democratic primary polls behind hundreds of millions of dollars in spending on ads, staff, equipment, and events.
Bloomberg’s spending is unprecedented, but it once again highlights an inconvenient truth in politics: Campaigns cost money – a lot of money. Even when it isn’t clear if a quid pro quo has taken place, big donors making large contributions or loans to a campaign can lead to the perception of corruption when lawmakers push legislation that benefits those donors after an election, as the recent campaign finance woes of a New York State Senator demonstrate.
One possible way to lessen the influence of large private donors is increased public campaign financing, a path forward recently endorsed by the New York Times. This could include programs like Seattle’s “democracy vouchers” or matching programs like New York City’s.
But until those programs come (and Buckley v. Valeo is reversed), wealthier candidates will still be free to attempt to buy elections. We imagine this won’t do much to get more Americans to the ballot box in a nation with some of the developed world’s lowest voting rates.
In other news:
- Public education around ranked choice voting is already beginning, according to the Gotham Gazette. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and other advocates have also asked the city council for $10 million to aid in this effort before the first elections run under ranked choice voting take place in 2021. Advocates insist that the cost will be offset by the elimination of wasteful runoff elections, which are obsolete under ranked choice voting. In addition to cost savings and numerous other benefits, advocates of ranked choice voting argue that it leads to more civil elections, although Adams himself is skeptical that will be true in the 2021 New York City Mayoral race.
- Councilmember Andy King faces ethics charges … for a third time. We would summarize the charges for you, but they look to be almost the exact same as the last charges. Speaker Corey Johnson says that if the accusations hold up this time, lawmakers will have no choice but to expel King from the Council.
- RepUsNYC is holding an informal gathering on Thursday, February 20th, 7PM and we’d love for you to join! The event will be at Tir Na Nog, 315 W. 39th Street in Manahattan. We’ll have a yellow and black sign at our table that says “Unrig the System.” Make sure to go to the Tir Na Nog on W. 39th St. There is more than one Tir Na Nog.
- Our next chapter meeting is on Tuesday, February 25th at 7pm. It will be held at the Center for Remembering and Sharing at 123 4th Ave. in Manhattan. Come out to hear about how you can be a part of our next campaign!