Comprehensive Campaign Finance Reform (Sept. Update)

We’re SO Close!

But our work is not done! The sub-committee has completed its work on the proposed 2019 Comprehensive Campaign Finance Reform law. It has been to the lawyers and now will go to the legislators. A Public Hearing will be scheduled, the legislators will vote and, assuming it passes, it will go to the County Executive.

There is no guarantee that he will sign. We have to keep the pressure on!

The Need

Ulster People would like to see a closed system, in which all campaigns are publicly financed and all candidates bound by the same spending limits. That’s not happening now, but passing this law is certainly a step in the right direction.  

New candidates, whose limited resources kept them from running in the past, will take advantage of public matching funds to run competitive campaigns.  The undue influence of large contributors and the corruption they invite will be curtailed. Our democratic processes will be supported.   

The Numbers

Local candidates, having qualified for public funds by raising $500 in individual small donations, will have their contributions matched at a 5:1 ratio up to a maximum of $2500.  Candidates receive their share of public funds as soon as they qualify.  

If legislators push back and insist on a 3:1 ratio in the final bill, it actually makes very little difference. Candidates would receive only $1500 when they have raised the initial qualifying $500, leaving $1000 still available. To receive that final $1000, they would have to raise another $333 in small donations ($999). The maximum amount available to each candidate remains unchanged. It just takes a little more effort to get there.

For County-wide candidates, the ratio (5:1 or 3:1) makes no difference at all.  They must first raise $15,000 in small donations to qualify. Either a 3:1 or a 5:1 matching ratio gets them well over $23,000, which is the maximum amount they can receive in public funds.  

Contribution limits (individuals, partnerships, political committees, labor organizations) are set at $3500 per election cycle for county-wide races and at $650 for local races (and considerably less for those doing business with the county). 

The Public Hearing 

has yet to be scheduled. The date and time will be posted here as soon as it’s on the Legislative Calendar and we will suggest possible talking points at that time.

This may be the most important issue the legislature has taken up this session. It’s been years of promises and finally there’s an end in sight!  Whether or not you decide to speak, your presence is evidence of support and the legislators care.

Please watch for the hearing date and consider showing up!

The Prize!

Passage of this local law in the Legislature–and the County Exec’s signature– means that Ulster County could  have real comprehensive campaign finance reform for local and county-wide races before the end of the year. 

In the meantime, please put pressure on our County Executive and Legislators every chance you get.  Send an email. Make a phone call. If you are in a meeting with Pat Ryan or any of our legislators, ask about their position on Campaign Finance Reform.  Make sure to let them know how important it is to you–– to all of us. Give a speech. Tell them it’s time–– past time–– for Ulster County to have real Campaign Finance Reform.  Finally! No more delays!    

Let’s make sure that happens! 

Read our past coverage on campaign finance reform in Ulster County:

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