Friday, May 02, 2008

Paterson's Campaign Finance Reform On Shaky Ground

Albany is Albany is Albany. Sigh.

What do I mean by that? Well it seems that despite everything surrounding the exposés of corruption in our state capitol, nothing promising is happening to alleviate our problems. Our new governor seems resigned to do absolutely nothing to help campaign finance reform on its way except for placating the groups that put boots on the ground to persuade our legislators to do what it takes to clean Albany. This morning the Times Union rightly smacks Gov. Paterson for continuing on the same big-money path as everyone has before him.

From The Times-Union:

Now here's the new governor, David Paterson, affable in a way his predecessor wasn't, and possessing of political skills that his predecessor lacked. Mr. Paterson might be able to actually set an example. He just might have what it takes to get Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno to agree to the tougher campaign finance laws that Mr. Spitzer fought for, to no avail.

Instead, Mr. Paterson is putting out the word that $10,000 limits aren't for him as he begins to raise the tens of millions of dollars that running for governor is likely to cost him come 2010. He's sticking to the absurdly high limit of $55,900 that New York's farcical campaign finance laws allow.

"In order to compete on a level playing field he will adhere to the limits that are set under current rules," says Jonathan Rosen, a spokesman for the governor.

Translation: Raise the white flag. No more reform for us, at least not until 2011. What counts now is political survival.

Oh, Mr. Paterson may yet come out with a campaign finance reform proposal before the legislative session wraps up. He might feign indignation when it somehow fails to pass. But the governor's commitment to even beginning to reduce the corrupting influence of big money on state government is suspect when he runs away from a measure that Mr. Spitzer had voluntarily adopted without having to fight for legislative approval. That Mr. Paterson is not Mr. Spitzer isn't always such a flattering comparison.

On Monday he said that campaign finance reform was too expensive. When good government groups came to Albany the next day to demand change, he appeared at the end of the day in order to endorse a bill in the Assembly this year in order to change/compel the Senate to pass reform as well. And in the very same week, he is making sure there will be plenty of money for him to run for (re-)election in two years time. There is no reason for a $55,900 limit unless you are taking campaign cash from rich lobbyists and those that are looking to personally benefit from such an enormous contribution.

Shame on you Governor Paterson! If you think you will get away with the status quo in this fashion, I have a lot of people who will be committed to pressure you until you sign a real campaign finance reform bill.