Text Us: #30930
Phone: (800) 616 WBEN
Business: (716) 843-0600
| More
WBEN NewsRadio 930>Audio & Video on Demand>>Bob Antonacci & Susan Lerner on Public Campaign Financing

Bob Antonacci & Susan Lerner on Public Campaign Financing

Aug 10, 2014|

Related Audio:


Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

It's time to talk politics it's hard line on news radio nine. Be here now here's W. And for most of this next hour -- going to be talking about public financing and before you start to roll your eyes and reached for the dial. That does sound like -- want to kind of boring topic but it's also something that right now is actually happening. Instead of us getting all theoretical getting -- -- -- a phrase won't keep this is where the rubber is meeting the road right now. In the race for New York State comptroller. We have on the line with us Bob -- actually he is the Republican candidate for New York State comptroller. And he's taking public financing or at least six expects to down the road -- give you some background here. Initially one of the things that the governor was pushing for in all of his ethics form reforms was some sort of public financing campaign. Where people would end up getting money from the government instead of from big unions big labor big corporations. Interest groups wouldn't necessarily be funneling all they have dollars and campaigns. The idea was that if we set up by public financing campaign that small donors would be able to get and that the government would then match those small donors and candidates would be better off and the process they say would be better off. Instead of adopting an on a really broad scale however the state decided do it on a pilot project the state eventually sent. Let's do and just one race and see how it turns out that one race is the New York State comptroller's race where incumbent Democrat Tom Napoli said. I don't wanna be apart -- I'm not gonna participate at the same time Bob and matching the Republican who's with us now says you know I'll give it ago. Let's dig into that just a little bit Bob thanks for joining us. And it's great to be here I guess it would like to say I'm the pilot in the pilot program. I would I would say yes indeed and there is no co pilot you are the driver on this when I guess. It's just me and my team and where were actually part of the program ways so far so good and. As you said in the introduction I mean this is about giving the government back to the people. And you know whether your small donor can boxed warning but you know you can be empowered with this program and set -- you know having to us. Tell your -- to the special interest in the lobbyists and unions it's all about giving government back to -- block which is what the people. I don't want this to become a -- give to Bob mentioned that you commercial -- -- but explain the process how does this work people after the give -- small amounts before the big amount kicks in. That's right. So I guess they can get my mailing address. I'm lucky yeah. Yeah so it's a small donor program we have to get. Donations of between ten dollars and 175. Dollars. And we have to get 2000 donors to give us money in that in that. Sweet spot if you will. And once we reach both threshold that 2000 donors and 200000. Dollars. Then we will be officially part of the program will immediately received six times those match -- donations. So the first -- would be for one point two million and that from that point forward every every ten dollar donation above. We would get six times that till the end of the election. And how much would you -- a -- said six point one. Of -- how -- that at first Jack the -- they have 200000 dollars to get part of the program that first check -- by definition be one point two million. And then we can -- that it would be up to us that we keep getting the actual donations. And we would keep receiving the 61 match. Up to a maximum of four million dollars. That would still though keep you -- competitive disadvantage to the incumbent Democrat Tom di Napoli wouldn't it. Well he's -- two point eight million you know he's got some big donation of two point eight million. We we we can get to this sort of -- would quote we have to do to get to the maximum public match we would have to raise about 650. 660000. Dollars and small. -- trouble donations. To get the four million dollar public match. Where were still gonna try to get there but right now we're just really trying to get it to be part of the program and in educate people on the process. It's it's new to everyone and in it's it takes a lot of time to explain what the program's about. But but that's the best the parameters and in the first threshold is to get the 2000. Donors and the 200000 dollars. Let's organize. Define small manageable donations of time a large buffalo developer and I contribute and have my secretary contribute -- my -- contribute. There were allegations that that these kind of bumbling was going on with former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino so. And I know that he eventually was tapped on the shoulder by the the state officials said no you can't necessarily do that defined. Solid what what what what child what child did is he he's decided you know accommodate cal is a wonderful public servant. And only that your school board down there. I think and again we have got any specific conversation about this my guess is -- -- about about the campaign believes and what we're doing what we stand for. And I got to know -- four years ago. What what what trial legally by the -- I'll make sure there was no problems with his donations. He he provided donations and and and companies about honor and 75 dollars in it through his LLC. Through all season and and I guess didn't realize they add that that's not match -- beat these donations. Must come from individuals. But certainly if -- anybody wants to have their white contribute further to you know to adult children they have to be over age eighteen okay. Those are certainly appropriate now what's that it would not be appropriate would be you know you know a father for instance giving his two children. You know the hundred dollars and say it'll make this donation about it and that she certainly we would not welcome them nor would would we condone bad. But Doug but but what but it -- surely have people working for us we certainly of people that are going out and and getting their friends involved -- that that's what this is about. What this is about is you know somebody in a neighborhood that's that's upset with the way things are going in New York State. Calling in neighborhood parties saying you don't want. We normally you guys wouldn't contribute to look at a political campaign a lot of people feel frustrated -- that you know what what my fifty bucks gonna do what my twenty dollars going to do. You know what all their big money that's out there. Well we we we get people have neighborhood parties say c'mon over to -- -- can actually let me tell you about -- -- -- and actually and they give it 1015 box. And the beauty is in this is where people get their voice magnified. Is that. Emomali becomes magnified six times so now is we'd like to say you're given real money to a political campaign and it -- the only inflows that we're going to be people insured are the taxpayers of the state of the -- self. That's the process. -- certainly Carol donations were legal. But they have to come from individuals to get the man actually question was what's the definition of match individual. Over the age of eighteen. New York State resident. And only the matches between ten dollars and 175. So I can bore you with -- one more because he's an individual gives us 200 dollars. Only the 175 is manageable but we're certainly allowed to take the extra 25 by the -- campaign. I wonder though if if there isn't a huge loophole. In the definition of individual. I look at something like and corporations certainly in the Paladino example might have run -- of the rules. I wanna look at the other side of the coin. What about labor unions these are groups that are. Working all the time and pulling together small grassroots donations and putting together toward a bigger cause. Isn't this the same kind of thing. Well I think I think what they have it's really the source of the -- Soul it is and why I'm surprised that my opponent did not opt into the program first the ball. My opponent called for this program for his entire. Time in office he actually I believe is written legislation. Is -- -- -- for it asked for it and then when they gave it to movies batter and a. You'll have to ask you about that someday but it to me it's that's certainly a -- But when you talk about -- the labor unions that they can bundle donations certainly they can have automatic withdrawal from their camp you know from their employment payroll deduction. But the check testicle from the individuals as -- way we interpret the statue itself -- the labor union as a voluntary contribution. To their -- And somebody giving up two bucks a week of three bucks a week. That -- coming from the pack is not going to be manageable now if the labor union or any anybody for that matter. Want to put together Ray Kelly insisted that to their members. You need to show up on Tuesday bring a check for ten dollars. Payable to whoever the candidate maybe that is certainly permissible against the individual writing -- -- And and then that would be that would be acceptable but I have to come from the individual. Similarly if a state that our county party wants to throw barbecue. They can do the same thing we're just in town for one here warning that. That's correct and I got a lot of help from the Erie county GOP and their great chairman nick nick wing or the. We had a lot of fun yesterday at a at a beautiful barbecuing Hamburg and I iPod I can't remember the name of our holes but they were very gracious. And that I received a lot of donations yesterday that they need a lot of people. And then by the way they even just as much finally went to the Erie county fair. Now we can receive any donations there because that's a little less. The political setting so we walked -- -- -- our church and so a lot of people. And where where appropriate where people came up to -- to where we were aware of my conference this is wouldn't -- where he knew people we would certainly be introduced to those people. But that's what we did yesterday in Erie county and we had a very successful thing. 8030930. Is our number 803 on 930 Bob and Jeanette she is here he's the Republican running for New York State comptroller. But mileage impact one of the things said about incumbent Democrat Tom to Napoli. My understanding is the reason he didn't opt into this is a it came too late and be it was specific only to his race. Is that rationality by. Well I don't buy -- and -- actually help people and I'm not buying it I mean first volley and the heat and Albany's a member failure Democrat with a democratic governor. The Democrat AG. The Democrats speaker of the assembly. I mean you tell me you didn't hear the water cooler that they were thinking about doing this program is it really true that he didn't know that this was coming down the pike. It's all the talk about failure to communicate. But if -- regardless she had plenty of time I mean he's got an apparatus that about a political machine easy this season campaign or he's been around the block. He's an incumbent. I mean he needs to lead by example he's actually this program and he opted out because they gave it to warm and he needs to lead by example let me say this idea even. My fellow Republicans and certainly the Conservative Party movement gracious enough to give me their endorsement. I mean they're not happy about public financing and I and I get it. You know there's been a lot of fraud it down in down in New York City would that would that would their public financing program. But let me say this the united swam and I am you know I am not ashamed about I can't believe the public not into the program. If there's one race that needs public financing it's certainly the comptroller's office okay. You know what you're the sole trustee of the pension plan you have to approve all of the state can attract. You are the watchdog of New York State government and it when you have to go out there and raise money from special interest. And corporations. And unions. And lobbyist. What how are you gonna keep all those people in Shaq how are you gonna keep elected a officials in -- that are also receiving those donations so if there was one race that needed. Public financing this is the 1 and I am disappointed that he wouldn't then but that's his choice. You've been craving my notes primary next question here was New York City corruption. They have a system like this that is in place there. And there have been a lot of accusations that the money doesn't necessarily go and get spent the way it is the way it should certainly that's an issue when donors are involved. But when the entire government is involved there is perhaps a bigger violation of public trust. What kind of safeguards. Are in place to make sure that. The money you get doesn't get -- what kind of things are there to make sure that New York City to that degree that it has happened doesn't repeat itself. -- I -- first solid start with a quality individual that is -- the candidate in the race. You know -- the beauty of of this race is is four years ago I actually shot from the Republican Party. The GOP nomination to run for state controller. Okay and I didn't even make it out I didn't even make it out of the starting blocks and I'll tell you why because the guy that ended up getting the nomination was what they call itself. Under FUNDER. Self funder. And -- gentleman promised that he was gonna put five million dollars of his own money into the race okay. I didn't even get out of restarting black because I was just CPA stole them attorney still am sitting county controller still land. And you wanna talk about my credentials and I mean I mean the Republican Party because they wanna have to worry about raising money for the control -- So let's start with the individual -- CPA and the attorney I have to license that it licenses to lose. And now we're just talking about the quality of my credentials in running for the straight I really think one of the aspects of public financing is going to be finding. Quality individuals that don't necessarily have a couple you know million dollars running around to run for these races restart would -- Number two at the board of elections has done a phenomenal job of laying out. The regulation and in interpreting the -- -- working with my campaign to make sure that everybody knows the rules it's tedious and I can make it yet. There's a lot of rules there's a lot regulations. But what you have to pay attention you have to have that there's a big determination her list of what it can be spent. And it that you got to have quality people that would that want to be involved in these campaign itself. I know it I get sappy you know that's probably that the answer that really want to hear. But there's going to be fraud no matter what system set up there's going to be fraud at how quickly do you. -- find the fraud hopefully prevent it in the first place but if you can't how quickly do you do you provide an economic internal auditor. I understand setting up internal controls and checks and balances -- not only prevent fraud. But certainly catch it as soon as it happens so I think I think we've got a pretty good system here and certainly would actually -- -- -- -- going to be very very careful that we do what boasted that. I don't mean this anywhere near as harshly as it's going to come out of my mouth I'm trying to figure out -- -- phrase that basically your argument though is trust me. Is now. While I mean. Easy I mean I'm a CPA I -- an attorney I screwed this thing up and get to licenses to lose. I'm gonna be accountable to the taxpayers of the state in new York and be accountable to the board of elections. And I can imagine you're at a statewide race. There's probably going to be hundreds if not thousands of -- news -- -- and reporters that are going to be looking at every document we file. And and our our stops gonna be on line community the extent of what we have to submit to the board of elections. Is going to be incredible so yeah. And he got the trust me you're gonna see the documents I mean by the way we tweet where we are. We we FaceBook where we are people not I mean really we haven't done that actually given that you know people capping our checkbook yet. That's eventually going to happen because. Every dollar we spend every dollar we receive is going to be available by the way you are -- about transparency. Even the donations that come -- that are less than 99 dollars which. Normally don't have to be disclosed. Will have to be disclosed in this program. I mean as everybody in the state -- -- aware the police can't come from and they're gonna see every issue every expense that spend but incurred by the campaign. We have about one minute left before have take a break we're so glad you're -- spend this time with us. But I didn't wanna spend the entire program on public financed -- who do you think the number one issue in the races. Beyond the mechanics of the stuff we've been talking about so far. Taxes taxes taxes. The people are tired are just sick and tired. Of architecture -- in this state. I can parceled out with regulations over regulations. And then certainly we can talk about how we changed things around we can talk a little bit about fracking we can talk a little bit about big government where is that coming court. And it Lashley certainly we gotta talk about. Corruption because the corruption that's so pervasive in state government. Is truly hurting our our our tax structure or increasing our burden I should say but I would say the number one thing is this for the taxes. Property taxes and -- I'm all of those issues except taxes do you see the comptroller's office having a role I can see the argument being made. That the controller is more of a technician or mechanic rather than up up policy kinda. It at the level of state controller to controller has to be involved in policy. Mean did its constitutional law says it's a huge office would almost 3000 employees. That there individualism that office have to be involved now somebody can make an area well you gonna you know you can recreate an -- or. Do not as certain way listen there's a there's a lot older person -- -- a lot of -- are going to be doing the school districts and small government. It out but we talk about moving the state forward the comptroller's. You know should be a professional that is involved in those decision not to lower the door -- We're gonna have we're gonna they've agreed otter which is what they did an underdog accounting this -- daughter or my green auditing group. They will be involved in the sustainability. Initiatives and we're gonna make sure that the taxpayers get their money's worth I'm offer -- Doing sustainable things protecting our environment but I wanna get my money's worth that I want to make sure that we're getting factual they're in real time. So we'll make sure that you don't fracking is the latest state besides the doll. That we're gonna make sure it's safe. And that is it's been elsewhere academy out of the doldrums that they're in right now. We are thoroughly out of time Bob -- -- thanks for joining us this morning. -- could do it that's Bob -- -- Republican running for New York State comptroller against Democrat. Incumbent Tom Napoli. Coming up we're gonna pick up more of this conversation about the public financing component that can kick it around with Susan Lerner from the good government group common cause. We were so late for the commercial breaks we take that now you'll have news on the other side. And open -- the conversation a little bit stay with -- lot more to come its heartland news radio 930 WB. News radio 9:30 AM WB and. News radio 930 WV and good morning this is Dave -- We're gonna talk just a little bit more about public financing you heard in the last segment Bob and -- either candidate running for comptroller of New York State. On the Republican side he's engaged in this pilot project but he even said today he's the pilot in the cockpit. But there are a lot of other things that need to be discussed about this particular issue let's bring in Susan Lerner she's the executive director of common cause New York. They are one of you hear the phrase all the time good government groups that's what they are basically government reformers to try to press for more public involvement more public engagement. More transparency. In government Susan thanks for being here. I'm delighted to join you gave that one of the best descriptions of what we did that I've heard thank you. Very much and it wasn't even renowned it was just tough the tough my hat. Well. -- talked to me about this pilot project. You would push for something bigger are you okay with a small plane. Well unfortunately not because it's really not set up to fly right if we constrain the metaphors are we can take it. It and -- it's not really a pilot project in the sense of bump -- show any thing that would be usable if indeed the legislature -- finally to wake up and passed. A public financing system for all state races. Because it's too little too late it's set up -- in a way that doesn't. Really encourage. Both candidates he used it. If indeed that's where it can be a pilot program should have been set -- last year. It should have any poll. Agency to brought it in some way to show how it would actually work. Instead it was the afterthought that was stuffed into the budget. Basically try and ameliorate. My organization and others in the fair elections. Coalition. To make -- feel that we achieved something that we are pressing very hard. Because the public wants to probable muddy and politics dealt with. Here in New York but unfortunately that's just not working alternative. You say that there's no agency to supervise it. And the board of elections do an adequate job. Well that's really a big question we unfortunately. The board of elections has been a continuing disappointment here in New York. They are a politically. Controlled agency. They have not shown any willingness to really grapple with the challenges. Although I there are brining our elections most effectively or most particularly dealing with. I campaign contributions there's been no enforcement of any kind regarding. Are very lax campaign finance laws. So we have a situation where -- blogs are very very weak and there isn't anybody enforcing them so. Unfortunately candidates. Can make up the rumble -- that go along so we don't have unfortunately very much confidence in the sport that they would be a good shepherd. If candidate -- not you were actually to qualify for the public money. Let's stipulate that the board of elections is basically made up of politicians. Don't you need politicians involved in the process in order to to push -- ahead and and kind of part of my argument there is the okay they they might not be the best but isn't half a loaf better than no loaf at all. Well no because that it's not going to succeed. And not going to show how the system would really work. That we really haven't accomplished anything now unfortunately I wasn't able to listen in to mr. rants about his comments on but. You know I don't know how well he's doing in terms of trying to qualify. For the money. But certainly if he doesn't qualify. -- and that will be an argument that its opponents the public financing will use but it's not a fair test because he hasn't had an adequate to Klein. Actually developed the kind of campaign operation that you need to go out and talked to a large number of small dollar donors. And of course the way in which. This program was set up so late in the campaign season the -- says your listeners know unfortunately. Campaigns start way before the string of election year. The other candidates city comptroller Tom does happily didn't have an opportunity to setup his campaign when he set it up last year. To take advantage of this. And it was set up at a time in in a way that made it very disadvantageous. For him. To participate he could see that this really was not a real pilot and he hasn't participated. So I think what we're gonna have at the end of the day if the system that was set up to fail while not a -- Isn't the idea of small match -- -- donors. A good thing doesn't go with the at the description earlier the idea of more public involvement more transparency. Absolutely and we're very very strong advocate for a public matching fund system for New York State elections. Legislative elections and a statewide elections. But one of the things that we learned and advocating for these sorts of systems across the country. Did you have to setup but that the ability usable and the people are going to be able to use. Otherwise she spent a lot of time. And installment of this energy although I don't think a lot of better -- the -- -- is that setting up with them but you can spend a lot of time and energy setting up with that doesn't you don't set that up right. It actually doesn't work. And that's our concern about what was done through the budget failures this year not to work as well we wanted the system that will. Failure here would hurt your cause you said exactly. Exactly and it's not a hair is -- Wave the Susan Lerner magic wand what should be in place. What should be in place or is it a matching fund system. That would apply to all of the legislative races all the statewide races that would be set up now. And that would go into effect in other 2016 or 28 T. You could setup but that the would have an independent agency. To develop full ruled. To make sure the public money is spent correctly and not. On things that you should not be spent on that they really enforcement and the time to educate candidate how the system works. As -- build up somebody in -- a fair elections fund that we're also. Strong proponent for finding -- dedicated funding source. For the matching fund program so you have reliable funding and that you're not at the mercy of the legislature having. Two. Constantly allocate money from the general -- And in the case of this pilot project that's exactly what happened is his budget money. Ultimately would you wanna check off on people's taxes some violent the feds do. Well I think that that's a very good idea but -- not seek a police source. -- that we should have there are various ideas are using a small portion of science which had been abandoned to the state as they do in Connecticut. A surcharge on civil or criminal penalties to fund the plan that the deal in Arizona. Are all different things that we could look at here in New York to provide an eight steady and reliable funding stream that it is just on general taxpayer funds. Talk a little bit about the presidential matching fund I think we all see that I RI RS form. Is that a template that would work state by state. Well it was when it was formed but there's a real distinction. Between what happened with the presidential. Matching fund system with the presidential public funding system and what happens we have. New York city's small donor matching fund system New York City continued to monitor the program. And improve that developed it is involved it can't allow that to change in order to address. Changing circumstances in campaign. Once the presidential first -- look set up in 1974. That was that. There was no revisiting that we're various attempts. To bring it up. To the demands of a modern campaign but none of them are successful and so what remained frozen in mid 1970 forced state. Unfortunately. Campaigns. Have. Evolved and changed since 1974. You have to be willing to go back and adjust to your campaign finance system to make it workable. And to keep up with changes in campaign. And that didn't happen at the federal level and as a consequence of the system that hasn't been used spot in the last two elections cycles which we think it's really a shame. In New York State what happens next the pilot goes out. The plane crashes and you guys don't have a case next time around. Or well -- company pinpoint and say hey look this went wrong this was good let's press on. Exactly I think. It doesn't stand for anything it doesn't have any applicability. It's not designed to continue or really to be of good reflection of how the system would work. So we believe that what's needed is for the legislature and the governor can get their act together and actually passed the recommendations. -- -- -- -- Which recommended. Not only. A public financing matching fund system for all state races but also changes. In campaign finance laws. For a conventional campaigns and stronger enforcement. We think that that's what needed and I think the public is with because people were really very disappointed. To -- -- they plug pulled on the morally commission before it finished its work. And ever so briefly let's touch on that a little bit more here. You picture some good coming out of it even though was scrapped early. Well there are preliminary report was actually. More herald. In examining the problem of money in politics and corruption in Albany than we've seen it in very very long time. And their recommendations. Are detailed enough for the legislature to pick up and move forward if they were willing to do so. Well there's no question that city. Shattering. The Moreland commission before its work is finished is is deeply disappointing. And a matter of concern I think to many voters. But it did accomplish some good thing and it certainly. Provided the beginning. A clear onset of recommendations. For the weight forward and beginning to deal with the problem of corruption and opening. All right Susan we are. Out of time thank you so much for joining us this morning -- thank you get that Susan Lerner from common cause New York.

How important is the Vice Presidential pick in your decision in the race for The White House?
  Very important
  Somewhat important
  Not important
View Results

Get it Now

WBEN iPhone App



Photo Galleries

RSS Center