Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he doesn’t view Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s rejection of a public campaign finance trial as a blow to its future, telling reporters Monday he’s hopeful the Senate will ultimately agree to a broader system.
DiNapoli on Monday confirmed that he won’t be opting in to a system in which small donations to his campaign would be matched with state funds at a 6-to-1 rate. The state’s $138 billion budget passed last week included a pilot financing program for the comptroller’s race, but candidates who opt in would have to adhere to stricter donation limitations and DiNapoli already has $2 million on hand.
And with no declared Republican candidate in the comptroller’s race, the possibility exists that no one will opt in to the pilot program
“We were hopeful that we would get a trial run of it to show it’s not evil,” Silver said. “We may not get that trial run, and hopefully we’ll early on get either the complete thing done for the next campaign cycle or at least a realistic experiment in the next campaign cycle.”
DiNapoli has criticized the program as being implemented too late in the campaign cycle — he’s up for re-election in November — and for being administered by the oft-criticized Board of Elections. But both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Silver have noted that DiNapoli originally proposed a similar pilot program in 2011.
Silver said he “can understand that it came late in the process.” He said it was up to DiNapoli, a former Assembly Democrat, whether to opt against enrolling in the matching program.
“He’s electing that option,” said Silver. “He’s still my friend. I still intend to vote for him.”
Silver said he’s hopeful the Senate will further shift its position on public financing. Senate Republicans have been opposed to using state funds for campaigns, which proponents say would lessen the influence of big-money donors.
“I look at this as a break in the Senate’s insistence that there wouldn’t be any public money used for public finance, so there’s a crack in that armor in that they agreed to this and hopefully as we go down the road, they’ll agree to the complete system,” Silver said.
(AP photo/Mike Groll)