How much more corruption will it take?

Today’s story that State Senator Carl Kruger will surrender to prosecutors ought to be enough for New Yorkers to say: “We have had enough!”  Here is one more case of a state politician who is allegedly being corrupted because politicians need private cash to run their campaigns.  Why don’t we allow voters to own their own elections by allowing public funding of campaigns?  How much more will it take for us to be convinced that such a reform, as called for by Governor Cuomo, is in our best interest.

The Kruger case is in fact a case where current laws are violated.  No matter what reforms are passed, therefore, such cases of violating laws just won’t go away.  However, we need to ask the question of why do so many of our public officials get caught up in maters of money tied to their campaigns.  It stands to reason that full public funding of elections that is owned by the people themselves (not by influential donors) will go a long way to reduce the incentive to violate the law.

Now, following the Kruger case, politicians who had received any money from him are in the process of distancing themselves from this unfolding mess.  Unfortunately, the reputation of even the hard-working and well-intentioned politicians who were associated with him will take a beating.

So New Yorkers, please wake up.  Call your assembly and senate members and urge them to support Governor Cuomo’s call for voter-owned elections that are fully funded by public funds.  We can’t afford not to do this.

In response to this news, Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York, issued this statement:

If the news of Senator Kruger’s alleged corruption doesn’t make our elected officials in Albany race to pass voter owned elections with public financing, then their inaction makes them as guilty as Senator Kruger and his corrupt pals are accused of being.

In 2005, Connecticut legislators passed a voter owned elections system after their Governor was sent to jail on campaign finance corruption charges. New York’s voters shouldn’t have to endure one more scandal before we take Connecticut’s lead and once and for all root out the motivation for politicians to sell our democracy. New Yorkers aren’t fooled – they are well aware that large campaign donations of big money donors, corporate fat cats, and their lobbyists have direct influence on the actions of elected officials and state government.

In his first State of the State address, Governor Cuomo said New York needs a publicly-financed voter owned elections system. In a Siena poll the following week, 70% of the public agreed. The Assembly has long supported it. We can’t wait for another news story like yesterday’s story about Senator Kruger. It’s time for Governor Cuomo and the State legislature to act so that we no longer have to watch New York’s taxpayers deprived of honest services from their elected officials.

By Charlie Albanetti on March 10th, 2011

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