Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol (D-North Brooklyn) will continue to advocate for campaign finance reform laws during the upcoming legislative session in an attempt to make the campaign system more equitable and fair. The Assemblyman is co-sponsoring two bills that would reform the campaign finance laws of the state.
The most significant bill institutes the Fair Elections Act, which would provide an optional public financing program for certain campaigns at the state level, including those for governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, attorney general, state legislators, and constitutional convention delegates.
“A state campaign finance system is a smart idea. Some people oppose the use of state funds to match contributions, but I disagree. If we want more citizen participation in our election process, the public needs to know that candidates for office have an opportunity to mount a successful campaign on a fair playing field,” noted Lentol. “Allowing large donors to dominate elections seems to have directly diminished the participation of the general public.”
Assemblyman Lentol explains that this proposed bill would parallel an existing law that has been in effect in New York City since 1988. Candidates would have the option of choosing to participate in the program, which would match every $1 donated to the candidate’s campaign with $6 of state funds, excluding donations over $250 per contributor. For example, a $250 donation would equate to an additional $1500 of state funded contributions.
“Ultimately, the goals of campaign finance laws are to protect the public’s confidence in the electoral process. There is no better time to tackle this problem then right now,” said Assemblyman Lentol.
In light of the recent presidential election, addressing campaign finance reform this upcoming session might provide the necessary momentum of support to get these types of bills passed, Assemblyman Lentol explained. As many government think-tanks have forecasted, the presidential election cost upwards of $3 billion.
“There is no better time to deal with campaign finance reform then now. New York is a laboratory of democracy and we should lead the way in making the campaign process as fair and equitable as possible,” he said.
Another bill sponsored by Assemblyman Lentol, the Corporate Political Expenditure Disclosure Act, requires for-profit corporations to obtain approval of its shareholders before making any political contributions or expenditures (A.10661).
The bill seeks to ensure that political expenditures of corporations are open and transparent. The need for the bill arose amid growing concerns from shareholders that political contributions made by corporations are accomplished with corporate funds without their knowledge or consent.
“The goal of both of these bills is to make the campaign process fairer. Everyone should have the opportunity to contribute to democracy in an equitable fashion and I believe these bills take significant steps in achieving this objective. New York can lead the way in setting the example for the country and I look forward to the battle we will wage to make these bills law,” Lentol concluded.