Next Up for Cuomo Should be Campaign Finance Reform

By Gabe Pressman
|  Monday, Jul 18, 2011  |  Updated 6:28 PM EDT
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When Andrew Cuomo was running for office, he promised to fight against  the influence of lobbyists  -- and their interests and to pass campaign finance laws that create new contribution limits.

But, even as he was making that promise, his campaign treasury overflowed with more than $7 million received from real estate and construction companies, unions, political action committees and health care lobbying firms.

Candidate Cuomo said: "The influence of lobbyists and their special interests must be drastically reduced with new contribution limits.We will be taking on very special powerful special interests which have much to lose. We must change systems and cultures long in the making.”

Yet that hasn’t happened – not by a long shot. He fought to pass a new law allowing same-sex marriage. He put through ethics reforms promising more transparency in government. He sponsored a tuition plan to help public universities survive. 

But he has taken in money by-the-barrel-full from real estate firms, management companies, labor unions, insurance companies, trial lawyers, the health industry and securities firms. These contributions add up to more than $9 million.      

Still, on setting limits for campaign financing, the legislature and the governor have failed -- miserably, so far.

Susan Lerner of Common Cause told me both the legislators and Cuomo are “a big disappointment.”

"It’s increasingly clear,” she says, “that large donors, or those affiliated with them, have special relationships with the governor and legislators. It’s very disappointing that neither the governor nor the legislature has seen fit to take up campaign financing.  I would hope that he’ll make it his top priority in the fall.”

If he doesn’t meet this challenge it will disappoint many reform-minded New Yorkers.

It will be a case of much talk, little action. Or, as the French say, “plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose” – the more things change, the more they stay the same.
 

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