Many of us have grown increasingly weary of campaign-finance laws that allow politicians to fundraise exorbitant sums of money from wealthy donors and lobbyists. They often have direct access to lawmakers, giving them ample opportunity to sway opinion on legislation. I want to bring your attention to two bills being discussed in Albany that promise to curtail the power of many of these individuals.
The New York Times recently ran a piece revealing the fundraising “circuit” that happens in Albany during the legislative session. Lobbyists pay their way into fundraisers, allowing them to give their pitch to lawmakers on bills that may be voted on the next day. I have introduced bill A5950 in the Assembly that would eliminate this practice by banning fundraising within a 15-mile radius of Albany while we are in session. This would ensure that the concerns of New Yorkers are not drowned out by special interests when lawmakers cast their vote.
Another important reform being discussed in Albany is public financing of campaigns. Public financing would limit the amount candidates can take from wealthy donors, and match small donations with public funds. By matching small donations, voters who contribute small sums are put on a more equal footing with wealthy donors.
I am hosting a community forum on public financing on Thursday, May 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Croton Library to discuss this proposal in more detail. I look forward to a robust conversation about how this measure would impact New York.
Sandy Galef, Albany
Galef is a longtime member of the state Assembly whose district includes Philipstown.