State Senate public hearing on campaign finance reform creates controversy

Posted at: 05/07/2013 4:04 PM
Updated at: 05/07/2013 5:38 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

ALBANY - The Legislative Office Building across the street from the state Capitol has three separate meeting rooms that could comfortably seat several hundreds, but for unstated reasons the Republicans in charge insisted on using a Capitol conference room, capacity 49, which they exceeded by at least 15.

As for the hearing's topic -- the first invited witness said he was with the non-partisan Center for Competitive Politics.

"There's no evidence that any of this (public campaign financing) works," said David Keating. "There's no evidence that it reduces corruption."

Keating criticized New York City's campaign financing system, which can provide six dollars of taxpayer money for every one dollar a candidate raises.

The next witness, a former New York City deputy mayor, supports public financing, but agrees the public probably doesn't realize what that means.

"Forty-two percent of people who ran for the city council (in 2009) participated in the (public financing)program," said Randy Mastro. "They got most of their money from public matching funds. Ten candidates got over 80 percent of their money from public matching funds. I think that would shock most New York City residents."

Republican senators were concerned taxpayers would be required to support candidates whose views they strongly oppose.

Halfmoon Sen. Kathy Marchione said her experience defeating incumbent Roy McDonald shows you don't need taxpayer-supplied campaign money or unified public support to win an election.