What Albany Could Learn from New York City: A Model of Meaningful Campaign Finance Reform in Action

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy & Ari Weisbard, What Albany Could Learn from New York City: A Model of Meaningful Campaign Finance Reform in Action, 1 Alb. Gov’t L. Rev. 194 (2008).

Abstract:  New York State used to be at the forefront of campaign finance reform. But over the past three decades, the State has fallen further and further behind the nation’s best practices. Now it has contribution limits that are sky high, riddled with loopholes, and subject to lax enforcement. Compounding these problems is a pay-to-play culture in Albany where candidates can use campaign funds to improve their personal day-to-day lifestyles. Most of these issues could be addressed with a properly designed public financing system coupled with pay-to-play regulations. Many of the reforms Albany needs have already been tried in New York City. Reformers in Albany, therefore, need look no further than down the Hudson for examples of best practices in campaign finance. This article explores six key areas where New York State law needs improvement in its approach to campaign finance reform and where New York City provides meaningful examples of better or best practices: (1) contribution limits; (2) candidates’ personal use of campaign funds; (3) pay-to-play; (4) disclosure; (5) enforcement; and (6) public financing.

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