FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
MARCH 6, 2023
Sarah Harris, firstname.lastname@example.org
In letter to Hochul, Stewart-Cousins and Heastie, advocates call rumored delay of program a “significant blow” to efforts to limit influence of money in politics
NEW YORK — Today, 22 national pro-democracy organizations, along with former New York City Mayoral Candidate Maya Wiley and former NAACP President Ben Jealous, called on Governor Kathy Hochul, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie to implement and fully fund New York’s recently launched voluntary public financing system, which allows candidates for state legislative and statewide offices to access public matching funds based on the small-dollar donations they raise.
“Failing to implement or fully fund the program in the FY 2023-2024 budget threatens to erase years of progress that New York has made toward empowering ordinary citizens and would be a significant blow to the national movement to reduce the impact of big money in our elections,” wrote the national democracy leaders.
“New York’s statewide small-dollar matching system will deliver on a crucial commitment made by state leaders to make more voices heard in our democracy and help set an example for the rest of the country, and New Yorkers want their leaders to keep that commitment,” they continued.
Full text of the letter is HERE and below:
Dear Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Heastie,
As national leaders in the movement to protect and strengthen our democracy, we write to express our concern over reports that lawmakers are considering underfunding or delaying the implementation of New York’s voluntary small-dollar matching system. Failing to implement or fully fund the program in the FY 2023-2024 budget threatens to erase years of progress that New York has made toward empowering ordinary citizens and would be a significant blow to the national movement to reduce the impact of big money in our elections.
New York’s public financing system is the result of a decades-long effort to build a state government that represents all New Yorkers, ensure fair policy outcomes, and empower candidates and elected officials to spend more time on the issues that matter to their constituents and less time on high-dollar fundraising. The program addresses the outsized influence of wealthy donors and shifts the balance of power to everyday New Yorkers. Additionally, it creates more opportunities for historically disadvantaged candidates–including low-income individuals, women, and people of color–to run for public office and win.
New York City’s public matching program, which has been in place since 1988, is a case study on the benefits of small dollar matching: it has resulted in more small donors, greater candidate diversity, and increased government accountability. Public financing programs have been gaining in popularity nationwide, with long-running statewide systems in Connecticut and Maine, and new local programs in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Denver among others.
New York’s statewide small-dollar matching system will deliver on a crucial commitment made by state leaders to make more voices heard in our democracy and help set an example for the rest of the country, and New Yorkers want their leaders to keep that commitment. A newly released poll by Stand Up America and Data for Progress found that a majority of New York voters support the small-dollar matching program and believe their representatives should fully fund, and participate in, the program. The poll also reveals a shortage of trust in government, which the public financing program directly addresses. Eight out of 10 voters believe that wealthy donors have a greater influence on New York elected officials than do ordinary citizens, and that the influence of money in politics harms our democracy.
As the 2024 election cycle kicks off, it is essential that New York’s lawmakers implement and finance the public matching fund this year to give candidates and the public confidence that the new system can be relied upon. We believe that New York’s leaders are up to the task and that any disagreements can be resolved without need for delay. We look forward to your swift action on this matter.
Christina Harvey, Executive Director
Stand Up America
Clifton Albright, Executive Director
Black Voters Matter Fund
Ben Jealous, former President
Former New York City Mayoral Candidate
Svante Myrick, President and CEO
People For the American Way
Virginia Kase Solomón, CEO
League of Women Voters of the United States
Tiffany Muller, President
End Citizens United//Let America Vote Action Fund
Lawrence Norden, Senior Director, Elections and Government
Brennan Center for Justice
Rahna Epting, Executive Director
Leah Greenberg, Co-Executive Director
John Bonifaz, President
Free Speech For People
Trevor Potter, President
Campaign Legal Center
Robert Weissman, President
Fred Wertheimer, President
Joshua Graham Lynn, Co-Founder & CEO
Analilia Mejia and DaMareo Cooper, Co-Executive Directors
Center for Popular Democracy
DeNora Getachew, former commissioner
New York State Public Campaign Financing Commission
Ann Toback, CEO
The Workers Circle
Declaration for American Democracy Coalition New American Leaders
New American Leaders Action Fund
Secure Elections Network
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
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About Stand Up America
Stand Up America is a progressive advocacy organization with nearly two million community members across the country. Focused on grassroots advocacy to stand up to corruption and voter suppression and build a more representative democracy, Stand Up America has driven over 1.7 million calls to lawmakers, registered over 100,000 voters, mobilized thousands of protestors, and contacted tens of millions of voters.