Campaign finance bill should be heard and voted on
State Sen. Jim Seward has called public financing of campaigns “dead on arrival in the Senate.” This is not true. The Republican caucus will not even allow the bill in the Senate door.
Mr. Seward and other members of the GOP caucus are afraid of public financing. While they wrap their opposition in nice language, the truth is, it is difficult for a challenger to raise sufficient money to take on an entrenched politician. The GOP incumbents like it that way.
Public financing is not a handout. Candidates need to show genuine support across their district by raising donations from real people in significant amounts. Only then can a candidate qualify for matching funds.
Opponents say that the public should not have to foot the bill for politician’s campaigns, but the truth is, we already pay for not doing so. It is no secret that politicians, particularly career politicians like Mr. Seward, know who their contributors are, and know how to give them special attention.
Seventy-five percent of Mr. Seward’s donations in the last election came from corporations, especially those in the insurance industry. Mr. Seward is chair of the Senate’s Insurance Committee.
Coincidence? Not likely.
We can create a system that allows regular people, people like you an me, to run a credible campaign against corporate and other special interests’ money, indeed we must. Opposition to public campaign financing from incumbents is not a principled stand, it is just a bunch of politicians trying to protect their own jobs.
Let your representatives know that public campaign financing deserves a vote in the Senate.
Howard Leib is an attorney based in Ithaca and a former candidate for New York State Senate.