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Waste of the Day: New York Will Multiply Campaign Donations Up To 12 Times

March 29, 2024

Topline: A relatively new program in New York State will use $39.5 million of taxpayer funds to match small donations to political campaigns for state offices, expanding them up to 12 times their original value.

Key facts: The Public Campaign Finance Program multiplies campaign contributions of $250 or less. If an individual donates $10 to a legislative candidate, the politician will receive an extra $120 from the government.

Open the Books
Waste of the Day 3.29.24

Candidates running for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general or comptroller receive funds at a 6 to 1 ratio.

Politicians running for the state legislature get their donations multiplied between eight and 12 times, depending on the size of the gift.

Only $25 million will be sent to candidates. The remaining $14.5 million is for administrative purposes.

That’s still far less than the $100 million the Public Campaign Finance Board said it needed.

A report from OpenSecrets and the Brennan Center predicts that small donors will now account for 41% of state campaign funds, instead of 6%.

Supporters tout the program as an important step in campaign finance reform because it gives more power to low-income citizens.

Critics argue that similar programs have not significantly changed voter turnout or re-election rates but are vulnerable to fraud.

Background: Thirteen other states already have programs similar to New York’s, as well as some cities like Denver and Washington D.C. Seattle gives voters two free $25 vouchers that they can send to candidates. New York City’s matching funds gives taxpayer-money to candidates running for city office like mayo, city council and comptroller.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul vetoed a change that would have matched donations as large as $12,000.

The only similar federal program to New York’s is one for presidential candidates that hasn’t been used in the general election since John McCain in 2008.

Supporting quote: "Because the program's match is limited to small contributions from constituents, it will push back on the toxic influence of big money in our politics and uplift the voices of everyday voters," Joanna Zdanys of the Brennan Center for Justice said in a statement. "It will give candidates a powerful incentive to engage with their own constituents. And it will open pathways for New Yorkers who aren't wealthy to participate [in] the political process."

Critical quote: Election attorney Joseph Burns told Fox News that the law will aid progressive candidates more than other politicians, and that in similar programs, the money “ends up just becoming an unnecessary and wasteful taxpayer subsidy of politicians and political campaigns.”

 Summary: It remains to be seen whether New York’s new law will help candidates opposed to the political establishment or if it is just another failed program that soaks taxpayers for an ever-expanding bureaucracy.

 The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com


This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.
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