The Conservative Party believes that full disclosure is the only viable campaign finance reform. Full disclosure serves the people of New York in the best possible manner. Forcing taxpayers to fund campaigns they do not support is not a wise use of taxpayers' dollars, especially when New York taxpayers are already paying some of the highest taxes in the Nation.
How candidates spend campaign funds is especially disappointing; throughout the years there have been many published reports of how candidates spend campaign money, reviews of campaign-finance records shows how even lawmakers who lost continued to dip into their campaign accounts for meals, expenses and even $10,000 for a car. Others spent money on tires, books and lunches for their staffs. While each reported expense is within the law, over taxed New Yorkers should not have to subsidize campaigns with their hard-earned money while they struggle with paying their own bills.
Good government groups, like Common Cause and NYPIRG, have long called for campaign finance reform by instituting public financing of campaigns. They are aghast that campaigns would spend money - given freely by their supporters - on such items, however they ignore the abuses found in publicly-funded campaigns.
New York is still deeply in debt, facing serious deficits and has financial obligations that may be underfunded; unfortunately, New York may even be unable to meet its constitutional obligations in the future. How can any legislator even consider adding an additional burden on taxpayers to fund their election?
The federal system of publicly funding the Presidential race has seen a dramatic reduction in those who want to contribute. The public system is funded by taxpayers who voluntarily check off the box on their income tax forms that sends $3 of their tax bill to the Federal Election Commission, but fewer Americans are checking that box - just 7.3 percent volunteered their money in 2010, down from a high of 28.7 percent in 1980 - leaving the system short on money.
Public funding of campaigns is a bad idea. It allows fringe candidates to qualify for matching funds, but more importantly it takes ordinary citizens money and gives it to candidates they may not support. Estimates predict public financing could cost $40 million a year. That is an additional $40 million of taxpayers' money per year to help fund candidates they may not support and gives them the ability to have funds to do with as they please is not a good system.
If a candidate has good ideas, the public will support them. The answer to the "abuses" is full and complete disclosure that will let the public be aware of any potential conflicts. If ordinary citizens object to the use of campaign funds that they have donated to, they will stop supporting the candidate.
The Conservative Party of New York State urges the Members of the Legislature to vote no on campaign financing and let New York taxpayers be free from yet another unfunded mandate. Full and open disclosure is the only campaign finance reform necessary.