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Hawkins Says Kick Out Cuomo to Clean Up Albany with Public Campaign Financing
For immediate release: October 19, 2018
Greens Call for “Clean Money” System of Full Public Campaign Financing
Green Party candidates Howie Hawkins (for Governor) and Mark Dunlea (for State Comptroller) said that Cuomo’s fundraising practices highlights the need for New York to adopt a full public campaign finance program to end the practice of selling government to the highest bidder.
The State Comptroller’s office has long been viewed as a prime source of pay-to-play problems with donation in New York, so much so that the state had a limited public campaign finance pilot for the office four years ago.
Hawkins mocked Gov. Cuomo after his spokeswoman Abbey Collins said, "No donation of any size influences any government action — period."
“Really? That’s what Trump says while he uses his office to enrich himself. Like Trump, many of Cuomo’s top aides and donors are leading a parade to prison for public corruption,” Hawkins said.
“Big pay-to-play campaign donations have become the most lucrative investment that wealthy real estate, Wall Street, and other special interests doing business with the state can make. The taxpayers are stuck with the bill for the tax breaks, subsidies, contracts, and regulatory favors this legalized bribery buys,” added Dunlea.
A study released by USA Today / Gannett News Service found that Cuomo has raised $100 million in his last three runs for Governor. “Cuomo's campaign cash is a complex web of influential leaders and companies, with 19 companies alone receiving $13 billion in state contracts after contributing more than $425,000 to Cuomo since he took office. Cuomo has relied almost exclusively on big donors, with 80 percent of his money coming from those who have given him $10,000 or more. In fact, 44 percent of his money came from those who gave at least $50,000, and nearly $17 million came from a mere 128 donors.” (article)
“Cuomo was first elected governor on the slogan of Clean Up Albany. He promised to close the LLC loophole, lower contribution limits, and enact public campaign financing. Instead, he filled his campaign coffers by using the campaign finance system he promised to reform. After eight years of broken promises, it is clear that to clean up Albany we must kick out Cuomo,” said Hawkins.
In his three runs for governor against Cuomo, Hawkins has called for a “Clean Money” system of full public financing like Arizona and Maine have. The Clean Money system provides every candidate an equal public grant of campaign funding sufficient to convey their message to the voters. Candidate qualify for the grants by demonstrating reasonable support with a ballot petition and a certain number of $5 donations. Candidates then run only on public “clean money” and cannot raise or spend private contributions on their campaigns.
The Green Party has long argued that the Clean Money system of full public campaign finance is much superior to partial public campaign finance systems based on matching funds as used in NYC. “This post-Watergate reform of partial public campaign financing just adds a little public money to a system dominated by private money. It hasn’t stopped wealthy special interests from dominating campaign spending,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins and other good government reformers have long called to eliminate the LLC loophole. 20% of Cuomo’s money came from multiple LLCs owned by the same real estate interests, a loophole in the law that allows businesses to ignore contribution limits. LLCs are considered individuals for campaign finance purposes in New York. With the highest contribution limit for governor of any state, individuals and LLCs may contribute up to $65,100. Unlike 22 states that ban corporate donations, in New York corporations can give up to $5,000.
Noting that U.S. Supreme Court decisions require public campaign finance systems to be voluntary, Hawkins and Dunlea also called for other reforms to regulate private campaign financing, including lowering contribution limits and banning contributions from lobbyists and state contractors.
“The difference between me and Cuomo on campaign finance reform is that I really mean it,” Hawkins said.