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Albany scandals spur call for public campaign financing


With indictments mounting amid accusations of public corruption, Albany once again has become a glaring example of all that is wrong with politics. But some see it as an opportunity for change.While the image of Albany as corrupt isn't new, few times in history have there been so many examples of corruption already convicted by juries with others waiting their turns. Supporters of public financing of campaigns see this as potentially forcing change, both by limiting contributions and providing public financing to those who want it.

The Communications Workers Health Care Coalition pushed for support of the proposal outside County Hall Monday along with The League of Women Voters, the Clean Air Coalition and Citizen Action.

Researcher Bill Nowak addressed those opposed to providing tax dollars for politicians and their campaigns.

"This is plan that we're unveiling today...wouldn't allow a union to get more than $2,600 or a corporation more than $2,600. I think it really does provide a balance and no one side or one individual interest can give any more money," Nowak said.

Democratic Senator Jeff Klein was very open about the chances.

"We think, unfortunately, the corruption that has hit us in our state Capitol provides us with a window of opportunity to finally try to take money, the influence of money out of politics. So, we're promoting our plan which is a public matching system very similar to what was was implemented in the City of New York. But, I think it's also our opportunity to try to level the playing field," Klein said.

The proposal also bars a series of backroom funds which are spent on campaigns with no accounting for what comes in and what goes out.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.