Statement of City Bar President Carey R. Dunne on the Association between Money and Politics in Albany

By now, everyone who follows the news will have heard about the latest scandal to engulf the Albany legislature. As outlined in a federal complaint filed yesterday, a state senator allegedly attempted to bribe two top GOP officials so that he could run for Mayor on the Republican line even though he is a registered Democrat. The alleged middle man is a New York City Council Member.

Whatever the outcome in this case, it is just the latest sad headline to emerge from the unhealthy association between money and politics in Albany. Despite the dedication and good intentions of so many public officials in Albany, as long as money rules, the road to corruption will remain wide open for those who wish to take it and public confidence in state government will continue to erode.

As an organization that has a long history of advocating for government reform, the City Bar renews its call for campaign finance reform in New York State. Such reform should include:

  • the voluntary public financing of political campaigns at levels designed to attract candidates into the public financing program;
  • stricter limits on political contributions;
  • enhanced disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures;
  • more effective enforcement of campaign finance laws;
  • a prohibition of soft money contributions;
  • curbs on transfers by legislative party committees; and
  • effective regulation of “independent” expenditures on campaigns that are coordinated with a candidate.

As recent events and polling demonstrate, the public clearly recognizes that access to state government is too often a function of the amount of money that flows into the political process. It is time to seize the moment and change the way business is done in Albany.