LI’s Suffolk County Legislature Repeals Public Financing Program

 lawmakers voted to over­ride County Exec­ut­ive Steve Bellone’s veto of IR 1416, announced last week.
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Photos: Wikimedia Commons\YouTube

Tuesday in the Suffolk County Legis­lature, (on Long Island, New York) lawmakers voted to over­ride County Exec­ut­ive Steve Bellone’s veto of IR 1416, announced last week. The legis­la­tion elim­in­ates the Suffolk County Fair Elec­tions Match­ing Fund Program and the Campaign Finance Board respons­ible for its admin­is­tra­tion. The legis­lature had passed the law in June. The program would have offered a multiple match of public funds on small contri­bu­tions from local resid­ents to parti­cip­at­ing candid­ates.

Steve Bellone - Wikipedia

Suffolf County Executive Steve Bellone

Ian Vandewalker, senior coun­sel in the Elec­tions and Govern­ment Program at the Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU Law, had the follow­ing reac­tion:

“We strongly oppose today’s vote by the Suffolk County Legis­lature to repeal the county’s land­mark public finan­cing law. This vote in favor of IR 1416 is a vote against our demo­cracy.

“The legis­lature’s decision sends Suffolk County back­wards in time. When the legis­lature passed the public finan­cing law in 2017, the county became a leader on campaign finance reform. This program would have refo­cused campaign fundrais­ing on every­day people instead of deep-pock­eted special interests. Today’s vote erased that progress, as well the Campaign Finance Board’s hard work to imple­ment the program.

“This decision robs the people of Suffolk County of the results delivered by public campaign finan­cing programs. Similar systems else­where in the coun­try help candid­ates run for office with the back­ing of their communit­ies, increase oppor­tun­it­ies for constitu­ent engage­ment on the campaign trail, and bring more people from all walks of life into the polit­ical process. Public finan­cing is the most effect­ive tool we have to fight the undue influ­ence of big donors in the wake of Citizens United and is needed in Suffolk County. With support for public finan­cing of elec­tions grow­ing nation­wide, we hope this is not the end of the story for the county’s Fair Elec­tions Match­ing Funds Program.”

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