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Comptroller's race will test campaign finance systen

WBFO File Photo

Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers have agreed to a very limited form of campaign finance reform in the state budget, it would only apply to the state Comptroller’s race.

Advocates spent a million dollars on television ads and countless hours lobbying and holding demonstrations in favor of adopting a publicly-funded, matching small donor system for statewide races, including the governor and the legislature.

But Cuomo and lawmakers, in a series of closed-door meetings, decided to permit a more limited public campaign finance system that applies only to the State Comptroller’s race.  It would be funded using the state’s unclaimed funds pool, which is administered by the Comptroller’s office.

Bill Mahoney, with the New York Public Interest Research Group, says it’s disappointing that the governor, who he says is “the most prodigious fundraiser” in New York, will not be included in the public campaign finance system.

“There’s no changes to his limits that has let him receive ridiculous amounts of money from large donors,” Mahoney said. “He’s completely unaffected by any of these changes.”

Cuomo has raised $33 million so far for his re election effort.

The reformers have not given up. The group Citizens Action says there’s still “plenty of time” before the Monday night budget deadline for Cuomo and lawmakers to  agree to expand public financing to include the governor’s race as sell as Senate and Assembly contests.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.