Campaign finance reform advocates have banded together to push for changes in political funding in Albany this year, and have hired Jennifer Cunningham and SKD Knickerbocker to hone a media relations strategy, sources close to the effort said.
The coalition, which includes the Working Families Party, Citizens Union, Common Cause New York and others, is working with the governor’s special counsel on public integrity and ethics issues, Jeremy Creelan, to push for changes. Their agenda includes a New York City-style public financing system, an end to loopholes and large intra-party transfers, and better oversight and enforcement.
“The groups have come together and made a request to the governor to make this the next big reform campaign,” said Citizens Union Executive Director Dick Dadey. “And he essentially made mention of it in his State of the State address.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was unequivocal about campaign finance reform in that speech.
“I’m going to be sending you a bill on campaign finance reform that puts public financing, matched contributions, lower limits and increased enforcement at the Board of Elections,” he said. “Let’s have elections that New Yorkers can be proud of also. Let’s have campaign finance reform and let’s do it this year.”
While campaign finance reform does not have the same emotional pull as same-sex marriage, some reformers hope the flood of money unleashed in this year’s elections by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision will raise public awareness.
“With the governor’s inclusion of campaign finance reform in his address, the coalition is expanding,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York. “What we are looking to do is to build the strongest possible campaign to move this issue forward.”
The coalition strategy is similar to the one same-sex marriage advocates used last year. The Empire State Pride Agenda, Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry and others formed a group called New Yorkers United for Marriage, which pooled money and volunteer resources into a coordinated media campaign led by SKD Knickerbocker, Cunningham and the governor’s then-secretary Steve Cohen.
One key difference is that while the same-sex marriage effort was run from the top down, Cuomo’s office expects campaign reform groups to come up with their own strategy and present it to the governor’s team for approval.
“They want to know what is the path to victory,” said one person involved in the effort. “This would be the first big post-Citizens United reform anywhere in the country.”
Two campaign finance reformers said Cunningham’s success with same-sex marriage made her a logical choice to run their effort as well, though other prominent Albany consultants may also take part in it.
“While we won’t comment on any specifics out of respect for our clients, SKD Knickerbocker will take part in this year’s effort to bring fairness to the electoral process in New York,” SKD Knickerbocker vice president Morgan Hook said of the firm’s involvement in the campaign finance effort.
Tags: Albany, Andrew Cuomo, Board of Elections, Campaign Finance, Citizens Union, Citizens United, Common Cause New York, Dick Dadey, Empire State Pride Agenda, enforcement, Freedom to Marry, Gay Marriage, Human Rights Campaign, jennifer cunningham, Jeremy creelan, loopholes, Morgan Hook, New Yorkers United for Marriage, oversight, public financing, reform, Same Sex Marriage, SKD Knickerbocker, Steve Cohen, Susan Lerner, Working Families Party
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