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March 4, 2013

League of Women Voters holds campaign finance talk

PLATTSBURGH — The lobbyist has it down to a science.

He leaves the Senate chambers at 5 p.m. and goes to his first fundraiser of the night.

He walks in, picks up a glass of wine and an hors d’oeuvre and makes a B-line for the politician hosting the event.

He pulls out the envelope containing a donation and hands it over with a, “It’s nice to see you this evening.”

With that, he downs the hors d’oeuvre, sets down the wine and heads off to the second stop of his nightly tour.

The scenario isn’t from a political corruption movie. It occurs when the Legislature is in session, according to Barbara Bartoletti, chairman for the state’s chapter of the League of Women Voters.

Bartoletti spoke at the Plattsburgh Town Hall Saturday afternoon before roughly 30 League of Women Voters members and community members about campaign finance reform at the state level.

Bartoletti and the League have been proponents of overhauling state regulations that allow, both directly and through loopholes, candidates with the most money to make the decisions.

Bartoletti’s talk also centered on how lobbying affects elected officials.

“No matter what is your issue ... campaign finance is the reason they are not getting done, or are getting done to satisfy the bottom line,” Bartoletti told the crowd.

CORRUPTING INFLUENCE

The campaign finance issue is not new. 

At the state and federal levels, where political funds come from has long been an issue, and one that League members have seen as corruptive.

“(Financing) brings a corrupting influence to politics without the quid pro quo corruption that lands politicians in jail,” local League of Women Voters President Sally Sears-Mack told the group during her introduction of Bartoletti.

Bartoletti reinforced that point.

“Money follows power. And power follows money.”

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