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by Jay Gallagher

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Setback for campaign-finance reform

Campaign-finance reform, a key priority of the league, suffered a rough day today in the Senate Elections Committee, with many important bills stalled, possibly for the rest of the year.

Also today, Gov. Paterson said he wants to furlough state workers one day a week until there is a new budget and also intends to ask lawmakers to stay at the Capitol for five days a week, rather than three, until a new spending plan is in place.

Measures that would have strengthened campaign-finance enforcement cut campaign-contribution limits, allowed public financing of campaigns, prohibit contributions by businesses that have been awarded state contracts and required the identification of “bundlers’’ who aggregate small contributions into large ones all failed to pass the Senate Elections Committee

Measures that did pass include making it easier for members of the military to vote, prohibiting candidates from authorizing more than one political election and requiring the identification of the sponsor of political ads.

“Clearly the important bills didn’t pass,’’ said League legislative director Barbara Bartoletti.

Committee chairman Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, said some of the measures “needed more public input.’’ But Bartoletti said league representatives have testified on them several times around the state.

Another bill limiting the personal uses of campaign funds passed, but Brian Foley, D-Suffolk County, who faces a tough reelection race this year, just voted present, meaning other “marginal’’ Democrats also may not support it, Bartoletti said.

Paterson asked for a up-or-down vote tomorrow on the furlough plan. There was no immediate comment from legislative leaders, but they're expected to resist the idea.

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