Group Pushes for Public Campaign Financing in New York

A large coalition of very large donors, businesses and activists are pushing for New York to adopt a system of publicly financed elections. From New York Times:

An unusual and well-heeled coalition, trying to tap public anger over the flood of money into politics, is pushing to enact a public financing system for elections in New York State.

The backers include media moguls — Barry Diller and Chris Hughes, a founder of Facebook — as well as investment bankers, unions,, the restaurateur Danny Meyer and the philanthropist David Rockefeller Sr.

They say New York, which they call a symbol of institutionalized corruption, could become a national model for the effort to free elections from the grip of big money. The campaign will start next week with mailings to the constituents of four state senators.

As with most things, the devil is in the details with this particular proposal; but in general, the voluntary public campaign financing systems seems to me to be the best hope in the United States for dealing with the corrupting influence of money in our politics. Efforts to keep money out of politics often run into technical difficulties. More importantly, any serious effort to do that would likely be struck down by our current Supreme Court.

With a good public financing system the power of outside money won’t be totally eliminated, but it would be possible for candidates to run viable campaigns without having to convince a lot of very rich people to give them money. Of course almost everyone currently in office is skilled at asking very rich people to give them money, so they have a very strong incentive not to reform the system.

Given the size and number of prominent backers behind this effort, though, it’s worth keeping an eye on.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at