Green Party: State Politicians Embrace Show Me the Money Mentality

Need Full Public Campaign Financing, Not NYC Model

Time to End Allowing Candidates to Run on ballot lines of other Parties

The Green Party today said the indictments this week of several state lawmakers for bribery is just the latest evidence of the corruption that dominates the two major parties in NYS and nationwide.

The Greens support ending the practice of fusion that allows non-party members to run on the ballot lines of other parties, saying it violated basic democratic principles while lending itself to influence peddling and bribery as reflected in the indictment of Senator Smith and several GOP County Chairs.

The Greens also support the system of full public campaign financing rather than the matching model supported by the state democrats that continues campaign contributions.

"Legalized bribes, otherwise known as campaign contributions, are still the best investment that Wall Street can make. The adoption of a NYC-style matching funds system of partial public campaign funding by NYS will not stop the domination of special interests, as we already know from the NYC experience under matching funds. We need far more fundamental reforms such as proportional representation, which almost all other democracies use for elections. As for campaign finance reform, we need the Clean Money system of full public funding, which provides all qualified candidates with equal campaign grants and prohibits private contributions," said Howie Hawkins, the 2010 Green Party candidate for Governor who spoke at a campaign finance reform event in Syracuse on Thursday.

"Instead of doing the people's business, the State Capitol does the business of 1%, trading favors for campaign contributions and in far too many cases, outright bribes," added Gloria Mattera, Green Party co-chairperson..

NYS proponents of the matching funds model say the US Supreme Court ruled the voluntary Clean Money public financing system unconstitutional. That assertion is not true. The Court merely disqualified the "fair fight" supplementary grants that top off the basic public funding grant when a privately funded candidate's spending reached a certain threshold. As the New York Times reported on the June 2011 ruling: "The decision... concerned only systems that use matching funds, as opposed to lump-sum grants….'We do not today call into question the wisdom of public financing as a means of funding political candidacy,' Chief Justice Roberts wrote.

Hawkins said that the ethics reform package pushed several years ago by Governor Cuomo was at best a bandaid. He also faulted that Albany County District Attorney for failing to follow through on campaign promises to clean up Albany.

Hawkins said that there needs to be a body independent of the Governor and lawmakers that has broad powers to investigate corruption among state officials. The State Attorney General should also have broader powers to investigate corruption, something Cuomo has opposed since becoming Governor.

The Green Party  supports ending the practice of allowing party leaders to grant authorizations for members of other ballot qualified parties to run as candidates in their party primaries. This process, known as a Wilson-Pakula, was at the heart of the bribery and corruption charges filed this week against Senator Malcolm Smith and various NYC Republican County leaders.

The Green Party would go farther and repeal the state law that allows nonparty members to force a primary through a process known as Opportunity to ballot. The Green Party and other election law experts believes this process violates parties' first amendment constitutional rights related to freedom of association. The law is written by the Democrats and Republican Parties to allow them to raid the ballot line of smaller parties who refuse to grant their ballot line to non-party members.

Even thought the Green Party's state rules expressly forbid candidates of other ballot line parties (Democrats, Republican, Conservative, Independence, and Working Families Party) from running on the Green ballot line, the Board of Elections allowed several candidates for State Senate last year to secure the Green line through the opportunity to ballot. 

"New York's fusion system of allowing candidates to run on multiple lines is an open invitation to corruption. The Green Party is the only real third party that has a ballot line in NYS. The other third parties auction off their ballot lines for patronage, influence and donations. Candidates should run on the ballot line of the party of which they are members of and whose principles they support," said Howie Hawkins, the 2010 gubernatorial candidate for the Green Party, the only third party that secured a ballot line by running its own candidate and winning more than 50,000 votes. Hawkins came in third out of seven candidates with 59,906 votes.