Christine Stuart photo

After seeing the state’s new public campaign financing system at work during two special elections this past year, Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero said his caucus wants to see some changes.

Cafero’s first proposal would scale back the amount of money available to candidates based on when they qualify for money from the Citizens Election Fund, which is supported by taxpayer dollars.

In the race to replace former state Senator Louis DeLuca’s seat, the Democratic candidate Kenneth Curran qualified for the maximum contribution of $63,750, just 10 days before the election. According to campaign finance records Curran spent a majority of the money on seven mailers. The invoices for the mailers show he spent a total of $50,500. Click here to review the report.

Cafero failed to mention that Republican state Senator Robert Kane who won the election also qualified for the full $63,750 contribution. Cafero said he’s not implying the Curran did anything wrong by getting or spending the money, however, it just doesn’t seem right to give a candidate that much money to spend in such a short period of time. Cafero said he is proposing the amount be cut back based on the time a candidate qualifies for it.

At least two of the Republicans at the press conference Monday have already qualified for the Citizens Election Fund contribution for their upcoming campaigns. The legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee has raised this bill which would give the State Elections Enforcement Commission more power to investigate election law complaints and other technical changes. 

As far as ethics reform is concerned, Cafero said his caucus would like to see the state take back the pensions of lawmakers convicted of crimes, make it mandatory for lawmakers to report personal conflicts of interest, and make it unethical for lawmakers not to report a bribe.

And while Republicans refuse to support same day registration for voters, they want to provide greater access to absentee ballots by eliminating the restrictions voters have on requesting one.