Our colleague in reform, Blair Horner of NYPIRG, might have said it best when he said, “The way you try to influence lawmakers in Albany is to be nice to them, and the way you’re nice to them is to give their campaigns money.” Blair said this in a recent Buffalo News (http://www.buffalonews.com/business/article252227.ece) article that reported on the millions of dollars Verizon is pouring into our state officials and legislature via campaign contributions and lobbying money in an effort to obtain huge corporate tax breaks.
The article reports that Verizon will receive $614 million in subsidies — at $3.1 million per job — in exchange for building a data center in Niagara County.
Verizon has given $1.2 million dollars in campaign donations over the past 5 years. They’ve spent $9.3 million in lobbying during the same period. Do we think Verizon is spending this money for fun? No. They do it to get a return on their investment. Indeed, they are getting that return, at a very serious cost to tax-payers, our children, and our working families.
The current campaign finance system gives corporations the power. But the elections are ours. We must demand that power back. To do it, we must have publicly financed elections.
Take action, tell Governor-elect Cuomo to make a system of public financing of elections a top priority in 2011. Let’s work to ensure that the next election in New York State uses a system of public financing so that we can trust the integrity of our democracy.
By Jessica Wisneski on December 13th, 2010