Common Cause/NY Urges the Suffolk County Legislature to Pass Public Financing

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NEW YORK, NY (06/21/2016)(readMedia)-- Today Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY testified in support of Resolution 1566-2016 in the Suffolk County Legislature. The legislation would create a 4:1 matching program of publicly financed elections, drawing upon funding from the Suffolk County Regional Off-Track Betting Video Lottery Terminal Program

"Publicly financed elections make our democracy more competitive and responsive to the concerns of everyday people by reducing the influence of money in politics. All participating candidates, including first time candidates, women, and minorities, are able to devote more attention to the voters, rather than special interest wealthy donors. Common Cause/NY urges the Suffolk County Legislature to adopt this resolution as a fundamental step towards a more open and inclusive democracy," said Susan Lerner.

Full testimony attached.


The legislation would create a public financing system for individuals running for the Suffolk County Legislature. A campaign finance board, comprised of appointees of the Suffolk County Executive, and the Majority and Minority Leaders of the legislature, would determine eligibility, the amount of funds awarded, and fines for abuse of the system.

The program provides a 4 to 1 match for the first $150 in contributions given by natural persons in the candidate's legislative district. To be eligible, candidates must raise a minimum of $5,000 from no fewer than 50 individual donors residing in their legislative district at a maximum of $150 per donation to receive matching funds. Participating candidates must also agree not to accept more than $1,000 from any individuals, partnerships, committees, or organizations. In addition, a participating candidate could not make more than $100,000 in expenditures in a single election cycle. If the candidate were to face both primary and general elections in the same cycle, the amount would grow to $150,000.

The legislation, if passed, would appear before the public as a ballot initiative in November.