Skelos: Public campaign financing won’t stop “crooks and idiots”

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Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos again spoke out against a public campaign-finance system on Tuesday, telling reporters that it wouldn’t stop the “crooks and idiots” who break the law.

Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver spoke to reporters following a news conference touting scholarships available for camp-going youths whose families were displaced by Superstorm Sandy.

The two disagree on the issue of public campaign finance. Silver has long sponsored a bill that would match small donations to political campaigns with public funds in hopes of emphasizing small donors, while Skelos remains vehemently opposed, arguing it’s an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars.

Skelos pointed to Sen. Malcolm Smith, a Queens Democrat who was arraigned today on charges of trying to bribe his way into the New York City mayor’s race. (He pleaded not guilty.)

“There’s not a piece of legislation that would have stopped Malcolm Smith, those individuals down in the city. Remember, this involved the mayor’s race in New York City where there’s campaign finance,” Skelos said. “Public financing of elections would not have stopped any one of those crooks and idiots from doing what they did.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo turned up the heat on the Senate on Tuesday, calling on the chamber to put the issue to a vote.

“I want public financing,” Cuomo said on “The Capitol Pressroom,” a public radio program. “I want a vote and I want it passed.”

He defended himself against critics who say he should put his own proposal in bill form, saying people who argue the “devil is in the details” sometimes use it as an excuse not to take a position. While Cuomo has said he supports public campaign financing similar to the New York City system, he hasn’t put out legislation that would do so.

Skelos, meanwhile, said the recent arrests in the Legislature are taking a toll on its reputation.

“You know what the message is? It’s our government is functioning despite the fact that there are a few crooks and idiots that unfortunately ruin our reputation,” Skelos said. “We work with each other, we talk with each other, we try to understand each other. We’ve had a really good three years.”

(AP Photo / Mike Groll)

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3 Comments

  1. What’s the best investment an individual can make? Politicians.

    Why do corporations invest in politicians? So that they can get government handouts at taxpayer expense. Attack these handouts and you’ll get rid of most of the waste and ineffectiveness in government. Skelos obviously wants to continue to act as a broker for these handouts and pave the way for a more lucrative career as a lobbyist.

    We do not have a government of by or for the people. Corporations and unions claim the entire system for themselves because they are allowed to. And we are all left out.

    Great job Skelos for trying to preserve the game for yourself, but I am not buying it.

  2. Another example of Cuomo rushing to pass laws based upon media attention. We don’t need fast laws, we need good laws. We don’t need a hysterical Governor acting like chicken little. Under Cuomo NY has experienced the demise of 39,453 NY state businesses last year, Cuomo is raiding $1.75 billion from the reserves of the off-budget State Insurance Fund (SIF). Coumo can not even hold on to his democratic majority which is in the middle of a corruption scandal and “show-me-the-money culture” and “pay-to-play politics.” He has disenfranchised the Northern and Western part of New York with his SAFE Act.. He can’t make a decision, either way with respect to fracking. New York has the highest taxes in the nation, is the most indebted state, with 33 percent of income dedicated to borrowing. It is ranked as the least “business-friendly” state in the country and if that were not bad enough NY has the distinction of being the least free state in the union and is called the “Nanny State” with politicians legislating what we eat and drink. Municipal governments from Nassau County to Yonkers to Syracuse are teetering. And during Mr. Cuomo’s time in office, unemployment has risen above the national average. 9% of the state’s 2000 population left for another state between 2000 and 2011 — the highest such figure in the nation,” see the study by George Mason’s libertarian-leaning Mercatus Center.