Leading members of New York's business community gathered today at the Albany Institute of History and Art to call for state lawmakers to pass publicly-financed fair elections this legislative session.
The business leaders believe that a strong economy requires an effective system of policymaking that adheres to the democratic process. They say New York's current campaign finance system promotes market inefficiency: that donor influence can undermine market forces by the pursuit of policies and regulations that diminish competition or unduly advantage particular firms or industries.
Damon Hemmerdiger is co-president of ATCO, a real estate firm based in New York City. He thinks New York's competitiveness is jeopardized by present policies.
NYPIRG's Russ Haven was among those attending the conference. He agrees with the businesspeople that the rules by which candidates for public office raise and spend money needs a major overhaul. He recommends New York City's public campaign financing formula as a model.
Larry Noble is President of Americans for Campaign Reform: he concedes there are forces opposed to fair elections.
Fair Elections for New York is a bill that progressive groups have been trying to push through the state government for several years. Observers surmise attention groups like SuperPACS and individuals like George Soros have generated may spur legislators to act. One legislator, Democratic Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, attended the press conference.