NYC Councilers Support Public Funding of Elections

September 16, 2013 Updated: October 1, 2013

NEW YORK—Around 10 Democratic candidates for city council spoke on the steps of City Hall on Monday about the importance of voters having the power in elections.

They stated their refusal to be influenced by investments of third parties—like the PAC “Jobs for New York,” which is backed by The Real Estate Board of New York. The organization reportedly raised funds from third party companies and spent $5 million supporting the campaigns of certain candidates.

“Save your money and leave the elections to the voter,” the executive director of Common Cause, Susan Lerner said. The organization is a nonpartisan advocacy group that aims to hold elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

Just a day prior to the Moreland Commission’s first hearing in New York, the speakers made their stance clear and praised the public funding of elections, which is yet to be enacted statewide. The program would allow for public donations, public matching funds, and grass-roots campaigns.

Mark Levine, candidate for City Council District 7, said election finances are like the “Wild West.”

Laurie Cumbo, candidate for City Council District 35, said democracy is at stake and demanded that the power be handed over to the people.

“I’m not for sale,” said council member for District 1, Margaret Chin.

Lerner said she would be asking all of the candidates to enter into a people’s pledge that allows citizens to donate to their chosen candidate while limiting third party investments. This project worked well in the Massachusetts Senate race, Lerner said.

Common Cause will release the plan for people’s pledge Wednesday and will ask the NYC mayoral candidates, Republican, Joe Lhota, and Democrat, Bill De Blasio, to sign.

“It’s to their benefit,” Lerner said before the press conference.