Wagner Puts Focus On Campaign-Finance Reform

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Justin Wagner (D-Croton-on-Hudson) said the state's current campaign laws give too much influence to wealthy donors.
Justin Wagner (D-Croton-on-Hudson) said the state's current campaign laws give too much influence to wealthy donors. Photo Credit: Brian Marschhauser

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – New York State Senate candidate Justin Wagner (D-Croton-on-Hudson) is focusing on the influence of money in political campaigns.

During a press conference Thursday morning in Chappaqua, Wagner said he is making campaign-finance reform the centerpiece of his campaign against incumbent State Sen. Greg Ball (R, C – Patterson) in the 40th Senate District, which includes Lewisboro, Somers, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Yorktown, Cortlandt, Peekskill, Mount Kisco, New Castle and Mount Pleasant in Westchester and parts of Putnam and Dutchess.

“As a candidate for the State Senate, I live the absurdity of our campaign finance system every single day,” Wagner said. “It’s a system here in New York that you can give four times as much to a state senator or a state Senate candidate than to the president of the United States.”

Wagner said loopholes in the law allow for donors to give upwards of $100,000 to a single candidate if they wanted. The large contributions, Wagner said, create a relationship between big donors and politicians that is “ripe for corruption.”

“When our lawmakers are spending all that time chasing wealthy donors and well-connected special interests, we get laws that are disproportionately geared towards the wealthy and well-connected,” Wagner said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo included campaign finance reform among his 2012 goals and mentioned it during January’s State of the State address.

Jessica Wisneski, legislative director of Citizen Action New York, joined Wagner in Chappaqua and supports him in his candidacy and quest to “reform Albany.”

“We do have some great allies in this long-time fight to finally get something done in Albany, to reclaim our democracy for the regular folks; the people of New York State,” Wisneski said. “Not the top one percent and corporations who are now influencing Albany.”

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Wagner is just another leftist in a long line of leftist NYS pols. If he thinks campaign finance reform is a hot-button issue with voters, than he is in the wrong business.

If disappointed in Ball for his anti-franking stance, but this guy Wagner is part of the problem, not the solution in NY.

I disagree with Mr. McVetty, and believe he misunderstands the concept of campaign finance and its impact on the average voter. Under the current law, wealthy individuals and corporations can give disproportionate amounts of money to a particular candidate to unduly influence the electorate. Candidates should have an equal playing ground on which to make their cases to the voting public. That is the basis of fairness and equality, and until we have that, elections can literally be bought.

In addition, stating the usual misguided and misinformed mantra about Democrats' spending no longer works. It is the Republicans that have put the country in the fiscal mess that it is currently experiencing by getting the country into a war that was not paid for and reducing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and the greed of wealthy bankers who ran amok with the sub-prime mortagage debaucle; the deficit that these actions produced has affected every not only the federal government but every state and municipality in the country, including New York State.

Government is not the problem; at all levels it has an important place in society; without it we would have no national defense, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP (which saves millions of American lives each year (including senior citizens, children and the disabled), low-income housing and other programs to assist the underserved), infrastructure such as roads and bridges, police, fire fighters, sanitation workers, public school system, state colleges, air traffic controllers, money to pay the interest on the national debt (which decreased under President Clinton--a Democrat--and increased under President Bush-a Republican), retirement benefits for veterans, transportation, or funding for scientific and medical research, the arts and other valuable social programs. Should we cut waste? Well, sure, but there are some very different opinions between the Democrats and Republicans as to what is waste. And, that is what Americans will be deciding in November. In my opinion, unless we reelect President Obama and restore Congress to the Democrats, the majority of Americans won't have a cart, horse or pot.
Thus, it pays to be informed and understand the truth of what is going on in America with regard to voter suppression, Presidential candidate secrecy and smokescreens, attempts to restrict Americans' access to healthcare on all levels and other atrocities.

Mr. Wagner has his priorities straight. People want fairness in government across the board, and it won't happen if the 1% -- who are the true big spenders -- get their way.

It seems that you have missed MY point. There are MORE pressing issues. Jobs, Jobs, and Jobs. You are also missing the fact that the Government IS the problem TOO MUCH OF IT!! Everywhere you go, you can't do this . you can't do that. Why do you think that starting a business is so difficult? Never mind starting a business, keeping one operating is even harder. I have heard this song before from democrats about campaign finance. In New York it has been going on for some time now.
You want fairness in government start with TERM limits. No more career politicians. Lets start with Sheldon Silver who has been in office since 1976. There are probably plenty more on BOTH sides.
Now this one is a pip {unless we reelect President Obama and restore Congress to the Democrats, the majority of Americans won't have a cart, horse or pot.} Looks like that will be ALL we have left after the economy comes crashing down. Unemployment at 8.3%. The national debt at 16 Trillion and climbing. The implementation of one of the most ill conceived heath care plans. The out of control EPA and its egregious assault on business's. This is what you want for our country. I do think you might want to move to Europe, they are more in line with what you want.

I think that Mr Wagner has his priorities wrong. People want the government to stop spending money they don't have. Its the spending stupid, to adapt an old phrase.
Campaign finance is a smoke screen. The money spent is given VOLUNTARY, and is not taken from our taxes!!!
It has been the democrats, mostly, that have put our state in the state it is in. I want to see what Mr Wagner will do to stop the spending of our tax dollars on needless projects. Cut the waste and then come back to us with campaign reform. Lets NOT put the cart before the horse .