Schmitt cheers ruling on campaign finance panel

Assemblyman Colin Schmitt celebrated a state court decision on Thursday that overturned new rules that would have allowed candidates to claim public matching funds for small campaign donations and raised the bar for third parties to keep their ballot lines.

A Niagara County judge ruled that the state Legislature improperly delegated its own authority by appointing a commission last year to write those rules and letting them become law without voting on them. Allowing an unelected group to make laws violated the constitution, Supreme Court Justice Ralph Boniello declared.

Schmitt, a New Windsor Republican, was a named plaintiff in one of two lawsuits challenging the panel’s decisions, which was opposed by two ideological opposites: The liberal Working Families Party and the Conservative Party. Both groups objected to the higher vote threshold for their parties to have stayed on the New York ballot.

Schmitt opposed both the tighter ballot standard and the optional public campaign financing, which was intended to boost the impact of small donors and drain the political influence of big donors (the law also would have lowered contribution limits). Republicans have fought public funds for campaigns as a waste of taxpayer money.

“This ruling not only saves over $200 million in taxpayer money from being spent on political campaigns but preserves every citizen’s political organizing rights,” Schmitt said in a statement.

He said it also showed “commissions cannot be created to circumvent the legislature and constitutional legislative process.”

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