Assemblymember Cahill: Campaign Finance Reform Levels Playing Field in Elections

Assembly continues working to reform state government
January 19, 2005

Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill (D- Ulster and Dutchess Counties) announced the Assembly passed a campaign finance reform measure designed to stem the influence of special interest money on elections (A.4).

"This legislation will restore public confidence in the way elections are run in New York," Assemblymember Cahill said. "Placing limits on special interest money and publicly financing campaigns will rebuild faith in our democratic system by curtailing the influence of special interests."

The plan would provide public matching funds to candidates for statewide office who limit contributions and campaign spending. The legislation also creates an income tax check-off to help build a non-partisan, statewide campaign fund for eligible candidates. In addition, the reform measure:

  • sets limits on the amount of money that can be donated to candidates or political committees
  • closes loopholes that allow corporations to avoid campaign contribution limits by funneling donations through subsidiary companies
  • for the first time, imposes limits on the amount of money which political parties can contribute to candidates
  • bans fundraisers by state legislators or statewide candidates within 40 miles of Albany during the legislative session.

The legislation also bans unlimited "soft money" contributions to political partiesí housekeeping accounts. Those accounts are currently exempt from the contribution and receipt limitations applicable to campaign accounts.

"Democratic elections are the bedrock of our society, and we must do all we can to preserve the publicís faith in them," Assemblymember Cahill said. "The bills passed by the Assembly will help citizens participate in democracy without worrying about how much money they can raise. I strongly encourage the Senate and the governor to pass this measure."

The campaign reform measure is part of a broad package of reforms unveiled by the Assembly earlier this month.