Assembly Democrats on Tuesday re-upped their bill to create a public financing option for political campaigns, revamping it to include a new board to enforce election laws and new disclosure requirements.
The newly revised bill — dubbed the “2013 Fair Elections Act” — would still implement a campaign finance option similar to New York City’s, where donations under $250 are matched with public funds at a 6-to-1 rate. But it would also create a “Fair Elections Board,” composed of five appointees who would oversee election laws and be able to audit and levy fines.
The current Board of Elections is something of a punching bag for good-government groups and certain lawmakers, who have criticized its structure for leading to ineffectiveness. It currently doesn’t have any investigators on staff, either.
The Assembly proposal is the third that’s been unveiled or revised by legislative conferences in the past few days. A pair of bribery scandals — one centered around Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, D-Bronx — rocked Albany earlier this month, leading the U.S. Attorney’s office to blast the “culture of corruption” in state government.
“For the health of our democracy, we need to provide free access to the electoral process and a level playing field for all who wish to compete for public office,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the bill’s sponsor, said at a news conference.
The bill’s disclosure requirements would apply to “independent expenditures” made in political races that aren’t coordinated with a specific campaign. That type of spending became popular in Senate races this year with little or no disclosure.
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are expected to put out their own reform proposal soon. Don’t expect it to include public campaign financing; the conference has been very outspoken in criticizing it.