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March 4, 2013

League of Women Voters holds campaign finance talk

(Continued)

CITY’S REFORM

Bartoletti came from Albany Saturday to drum up support for pushing legislators for reform. In doing so, she pointed to New York City’s regulations, which have been adjusted to bring more candidates into the political arena.

The regulations force the city to match small-time donor contributions to candidates. The city also has regulations that set a minimum financial threshold candidates must reach in order to be eligible for public debates.

Bartoletti said the latter has increased the number of female and minority candidates.

REFORM IN ALBANY

But in Albany, no such regulations, especially those that help small-time candidates get their voices heard, exist.

Bartoletti said one-third of the campaign contributions came from just 127 large donors. While there are limits set for how much corporations, which make up part of those donors, can spend on each candidate, through loopholes like the one that allows subsidiaries and their subsidiaries to give additional donations, candidates can rake in thousands of dollars that add up to give them an edge.

When it comes to enforcing regulations, an audible gasp came from the group when Bartoletti said there are no investigators to enforce the campaign finance laws. Instead, State Troopers currently enforce the regulations.

“How much time do you think they will give to enforcing that?” she asked.

LEAGUE-SPONSORED REFORM

Bartoletti also spoke about the League of Women Voters’ solutions to finance issues. Among them is that candidates can bring in money from only their constituents, forcing them to go out into their districts and interact with those who they make decisions for.

Bartoletti said that would force candidates to represent constituents’ interests.

She urged local League members to hand write or type letters to their representatives to bring the campaign finance reform issue to their attention.

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