People across the country are angry about the flood of money into politics made possible by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision and other recent court rulings. This is true in New York, where a broad and influential group of individuals and organizations is working to pass a public financing system for state elections.
The New York Times reports that the group, called New York Leadership for Accountable Government, includes Barry Diller, Chris Hughes (a founder of Facebook), former Mayor Ed Koch, investment bankers, unions, MoveOn.org, restauranteur Danny Meyer, and David Rockefeller Sr. The coalition proposed a system modeled after the one adopted by New York City in 1988: “in return for abiding by limits on their spending, city candidates can receive $6 in public funds for each of the first $175 city residents donate,” the Times writes.
New York currently has one of the “least restrictive” campaign finance systems in the nation — individuals can donated up to $60,800 to candidates running for statewide office. This coalition wants to change that:
They say New York, which they call a symbol of institutionalized corruption, could become a national model for the effort to free elections from the grip of big money…
Leaders of the coalition say the Citizens United ruling and the role of “super PACs” in the presidential race have made campaign finance a more broadly understood and urgent issue.
“Right now people are feeling a little bit helpless about super PACs and how to get money out of the system at the federal level,” said Sean Eldridge, Mr. Hughes’s fiancé, who runs an investment fund and is a leader of the effort. “An opportunity to pass campaign finance reform in New York is an opportunity for people to do something — to actually be able to pass a bill, to make progress.”
We wish them the best of luck. With the Times reporting in another article this week that both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns are likely to reject public funds, big money in politics is only getting bigger.