- Last Updated: 11:40 PM, April 26, 2012
- Posted: April 27, 2012
Speaking of political corruption, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver has a new plan to spread the sleaze even further.
The speaker, you see, wants to let statewide pols in on some of the public-finance action that their counterparts in the city now enjoy.
A bill Silver introduced in Albany this week would provide public matching funds for all state races, much as New York City’s campaign-finance system does for city races.
You remember that system — the one city Comptroller John Liu’s folks are now accused of abusing, in a bid to defraud taxpayers out of perhaps tens of thousands of dollars?
Silver’s plan closely mimics the city’s, which serves up $6 in taxpayer cash for every buck that pols raise independently — up to $1,050 per contributor.
Actually, Silver’s bill extends the damage, raising the cap to as much as $1,500 per donor.
He says the money will reduce politicians’ reliance on individual givers and will “clean up government.”
Which it absolutely will — if expanding corruption is what he means by cleaning up government, that is.
Meanwhile, the feds are tearing apart John Liu’s campaign.
They say his team created networks of “straw donors” who broke up big donations from financiers to trigger tens of thousands of dollars in matching funds.
Now, if the city can’t even trust its financial overseer to handle public funds legally, why expect better from the rats in Albany?
And Liu & Co. would not be the first folks to run roughshod over the city’s system: Former Councilman Sheldon Leffler’s 24-year career unraveled when he was convicted in a similar scheme.
Let’s be clear: Silver’s bill won’t do anything to rein in the influence of wealthy donors, corporate interests or labor groups, who will always find ways to, uh, butter the pols’ bread.
But New Yorkers should learn from the city’s experience: Gotham’s public-finance system dished out over $27 million in taxpayer cash to pols in the 2009 elections alone. In the process, it multiplied the fund-raising power of incumbents. Statewide public-financing would have a similar impact.
As Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long notes, looming debts and deficits make the spending unconscionable.
“How can any legislator,” he asks, “even consider adding an additional burden on taxpayers to fund their election?”
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos also claims to oppose the bill: “I’m sure that there are people in Buffalo or Long Island . . . [who] would not want to see their money go to Pedro Espada.”
Or Carl Kruger.
Skelos can make sure that never happens — by standing firmly against the bill.
But Gov. Cuomo, ultimately, should be standing right alongside him.
Unless he, too, thinks New York isn’t corrupt enough.Follow @NYPostOpinion