Unshackle Upstate's response to taxpayer-funded political campaigns

By Kelly McCarthy

December 4, 2013 Updated Dec 4, 2013 at 6:39 PM EST

(WBNG Binghamton) An Upstate New York advocacy group releases their own report that goes against the push for publicly funded political campaigns. Just this week Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Moreland Commission recommended a switch to public financing to help curb political corruption.

Members of Unshackle Upstate said they agree with the Moreland Commission's efforts to close loopholes and eliminate political corruption, but they're taking issue with the commission's push to use taxpayer-funded political campaigns to do so.

Taxpayer-funded campaigns use a match ratio of 6-to-1. For every dollar candidates raise, they receive $6 of state money. It's currently used in New York City, but Unshackle Upstate said switching to that model would only waste taxpayer dollars.

"You could be talking about potentially 1,000 different people raising money and getting a 6-to-1 match, how much is that going to cost?" said Unshackle Upstate Executive Director Brian Sampson. "Even if it costs us $1, that's $1 that's not being used to fund tax relief for the people in the Southern Tier. That's what's needed down here."

The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce is one of the organizations that make up Unshackle Upstate.

"This money could be put to a lot better use," said Chamber CEO Lou Santoni."When you're talking hundreds of millions of dollars, when the schools are facing shortages, when our bridges need to be repaired, when our roads need to be repaired, why would we supplement politicians in the form of taxpayers dollars?"

The Unshackle Upstate study called, "Money for Nothing," supports increasing transparency and putting more funding into the New York Board of Elections to handle the influence of money in political corruption.

Unshackle Upstate also believes using public funds for political purposes goes against New York's Constitution.

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