Green Party Calls Proposed Public Matching Funds Proposal a Sham

For Immediate Release

ALBANY—The Green Party of New York today called the campaign finance matching funds proposal put forward by the Governor an incumbency protection system, and discriminatory against candidates not running as Democrats or Republicans. Party officials said the legislature needs to pass a full public campaign finance system like Maine and Arizona.

“The proposal on the table in the Governor’s budget is designed to protect incumbents and discriminate against candidates in parties like the Greens or Libertarians. The minimum number of donations and level of donations for the funds to kick in is far too high for every state office. Including a provision that requires a primary to occur on either the Democratic or Republican lines for the matching funds to kick in absolutely discriminatory. Greens and other third party candidates running on their own line, as well as independents would be shut out of the public financing system if they ran against an unopposed Democrat or Republican,” said Gloria Mattera, co-chair of the Green Party of New York.

“In Arizona and Maine, state candidates are given lump sums after raising very small donations from in-district voters. For instance, in Maine, a State House candidate has to collect a minimum of 60 donations, with qualifying amounts starting at $5, from voters in the district. They are then disbursed a lump sum to run for office, but only if they forgo further private donations. Supplemental payments can be made later in the campaign after more qualifying donations are received. This is a far fairer system than the one proposed in New York, and it helps candidates from all parties, not just Democrats and Republicans,” said Peter LaVenia, co-chair of the Green Party of New York.

For comparison, the Governor’s proposed matching funds system for state office:

  • No candidate who runs unopposed in a primary election can receive matching funds, unless there is a primary on the Democratic or Republican line (specific provisions mention highest and second highest enrolled member parties).
  • Governor matching funds: $650,000 minimum to kick in, w/ at least 6500 matchable contributors between $10-$175 from NYS residents
  • Lt Gov/AG/Comptroller: $200,000 minimum to kick in, w/ at least 2000 matchable contributors between $10-$175 from NYS residents
  • State Senator: $20,000 minimum to kick in, w/ at least 200 matchable contributors between $10-$175 from NYS residents
  • State Assembly: $10,000 minimum to kick in, w/ at least 100 matchable contributors between $10-$175 from NYS residents

The Greens said that Democrats could also enact other provisions to aid candidates for public office, including mandating free airtime for all ballot-qualified candidates on broadcast media, free mailings to in-district voters, and required debates between all candidates taking public financing monies.

“If the Governor’s proposal or a similar matching funds program is passed, then while very little will have changed in terms of getting money out of politics and aiding real competition in New York State Elections, Democrats will get to claim they have done something on campaign finance reform. The Green Party calls for real campaign finance reform, not the sham that is the matching funds proposal,” concluded LaVenia.

Contacts:

Peter LaVenia, Co-chair, GPNY    chair2@gpny.org or 518-495-8001
Gloria Mattera, Co-chair, GPNY  chair@gpny.org or 917-886-4538