True Blue NY Grassroots Coalition and Long Island Activists Joint Statement Urging 2020 Candidates To Commit To Fight For Gold Standard Public Financing

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In 2018, New Yorkers showed up at the ballot box to demand a new vision for our state: one in which a Democratic trifecta would expand and strengthen our democracy, prioritizing people over power. However, despite passing a host of important voting reforms, this current legislature’s decision to punt their responsibility of enacting a small-donor matching public financing system to an unelected commission during the 2019 budget process raised concerns over their true commitment to reforming a system that drowns out the voices of everyday New Yorkers and leaves special interest influence at the heart of our elections.

In 2020, New Yorkers will once again have the opportunity to head to the ballot box to vote for who they believe will stand up for the people of New York. And the reform (or lack thereof) of our campaign financing system will be a true measuring stick for voters and the activists who will undoubtedly knock thousands of doors to deliver an election night victory.

Which is why today, the True Blue NY Grassroots Coalition and the Long Island Activists are calling upon all candidates running for the State Legislature in 2020, incumbents and challengers, to commit publicly to delivering a true gold standard small-donor matched public financing system. The system our state deserves.

This system must include:

  • At least a 6-to-1 match on small donations statewide, to ensure that participating candidates are able to raise significant sums from small donors. True Blue supports incentivizing in-district fundraising with a higher in-district match.
  • Qualifying thresholds that are attainable by viable candidates with community support but avoid wasting public funds on frivolous candidates.
  • Lower contribution limits (including lower doing business limits) for all candidates (participants and nonparticipants) that incentivize fundraising from small donors and program participation.
  • Establish a campaign finance agency overseen by a board with a candidate services and oversight unit separate from the State Board of Elections — one that will guard against fraud but will also support candidates and set them up for success.
  • Cover all statewide and state legislative races for both primary and general elections. (Ideally, a public financing of elections program would also cover district attorney races.)

Current elected officials should speak out publicly in support of these policy tenets and commit to coming back to Albany to improve upon the commission’s findings or vote them down if they are untenable. The best way to express support right now is by signing on, by November 15, to the letter currently circulating from Senators Salazar and Ramos, and Assembly Members Niou, Cruz and Rosenthal. All elected officials should pressure their leaders to support the same.

Primary challengers should campaign on the commitment to modifying legislation to meet these gold standard planks, and continue doing so if the current legislature falls short. We encourage challengers to speak out now by writing a public statement pledging to support public financing if elected, and send it to your own mailing list and post to your social accounts.

The stakes are too high and we are watching.

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