Republicans denounce campaign finance panel

Two Republican assemblymen from the mid-Hudson teed off this week on the state panel that is devising a plan for voluntary public financing for political campaigns in New York, a system that could take effect through that body without having to go before the Legislature for a vote.

“It’s bad enough Democrats in Albany want to control our money, now they want to vote for us too,” Assemblyman Karl Brabenec of Deerpark said in a statement on Thursday, when the commission met. “It’s no surprise Assembly Democrats kicked the decision to publicly fund political campaigns to a third party commission – washing their hands of this dangerous and unnecessary proposal.”

The purpose of providing public funds to match candidates’ small campaign donations is to wrest control of campaigns from big donors and enable more people to wage competitive races. Brabenec said he supported “making it easier for qualified citizens to run for office,” but doesn’t want taxpayers to foot a bill that could be up to $100 million.

“Our taxes are high enough and the last thing we should be reaching into residents’ wallets for is to fund political campaigns,” Brabenec said, warning of potential abuses as well.

Assemblyman Colin Schmitt of New Windsor took issue with the commission also looking at the elimination of fusion voting in New York, and news reports that a Cuomo appointee on the panel – state Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs – had recruited speakers to oppose fusion voting during a hearing. Fusion voting allows candidates to run on one or more third-party ballot lines in addition to a major-party line.

“As we have known from the beginning the ‘Commission on Public Financing’ is a smokescreen to advance a partisan political agenda and subvert the constitutional authority of the state legislature to debate and set state law and policy,” Schmitt said in a statement.

“Regardless of where you stand on campaign financing, the publicly elected and publicly accountable members of the Assembly and Senate should debate and vote on any and all decisions that change our political process, not unaccountable politically connected insiders.”

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