Senate Dems, Advocacy Groups Push For Publicly Financed Campaigns

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As the Senate Republicans conferenced behind closed doors across the street, a coalition of groups pushing for campaign-finance reformed joined with Democratic legislators to renew their called for a publicly funded system for financing campaigns.

Citizen Action, the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter and a handful of other members of the Fair Elections campaign held a news conference outlining their support for a public option modeled on New York City’s, which matches small campaign donations at a 6-to-1 rate.

The groups were joined by Albany-area Sen. Neil Breslin, two newly elected Assembly members and two Democratic Senate candidates currently locked in absentee ballot counting and recounts: Terry Gipson, D-Rhinebeck, Dutchess County; and Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, Schenectady County.

Gipson said he spent 80 percent of his time fundraising during his political campaign. Without campaign-finance reform, non-wealthy candidates face a serious disadvantage, he said.

“I was really fortunate to get elected not being personally wealthy and not having personal relationships with wealthy contributors,” Gipson said. “I’m a real exception to the rule, and I shouldn’t be an exception.”

Tkaczyk was assisted in her campaign by a pair of independent expenditures from groups pushing for the public financing of campaigns. She said her potential victory shows her voters want the system reformed.

“I am looking forward to getting these last days of counting done and taking my seat in January and voting for real campaign-finance reform,” Tkaczyk said. “Not a watered-down version but the bill that allows for public matching funds, because when the small donations count more than big donations then the issues that matter to the voters will be the ones we represent most strongly in Albany.”

Here’s Gipson discussing his support:

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