Both state representatives for Cattaraugus and Allegany counties are opposed to this week’s recommendations of the state Public Campaign Financing Commission.
Newly-seated State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, and Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda said the commission’s actions in campaign finance reform are best left to the State Legislature.
“I don’t see how that’s legal,” Borrello said of the commission’s actions — including matching funds for small donations up to $250 and setting a higher bar for minor parties as a way to lessen fusion voting, or candidate endorsements by multiple parties.
The recommendations would also reduce the amount an individual could contribute to a Senate candidate to $10,000 from $19,300. An Assembly candidate could not receive more than $6,000 from an individual, down from $9,400.
The commission’s recommendations to require 130,000 instead of 50,0000 state votes in a gubernatorial election in order to automatically get a ballot line is getting some pushback from minor parties. It would go into effect in 2022.
Borrello, the former Chautauqua County executive who won the special election in the 57th State Senate District, noted the New York Conservative Party has filed a lawsuit against the recommendations that will become law if the State Legislature does not act in three weeks.
“Good ideas or bad, I don’t think (the commission) should be able to do this,” Borrello said. “I don’t think this is something to be taken up by a commission. It’s inappropriate for a handful of people to make laws impacting every single New Yorker.”
When it comes to the public financing component of the commission’s recommendations, Borrello said he didn’t think “spending $100 million of state taxpayer money on campaigns was a good idea either.” He added: “It’s a bad idea all around.”
Borello said, “The problem with the way this whole things works is unless the State Legislature takes action, it becomes law. That has to be unconstitutional. I intend to look into this.”
Borrello represents Cataraugus, Allegany, Chautauqua and part of Livingston counties. He defeated Democrat Austn Morgan of Freedom in the special election to succeed former Sen. Catharine M. Young, R-Olean, who resigned in March.
Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda said he’s not hearing the outcry needed to force recalling state lawmakers for a special session in order to overturn portions or all of the recommendations. That special session must come within three weeks.
“I voted against the whole commission,” which was part of the 2019 state budget, Giglio said. “That’s out job. It’s a way for legislators to to dodge the issues. We should stand up and be counted.”
Giglio said it could still come up for a vote in the Legislature after the three-week period, but that it was probably unlikely.
State legislative leaders have not recoiled from the recommendations. Unless there is pressure from members, Senate and Assembly leaders will probably let the recommendations become law.
“You hear rumors about a special session,” Giglio said, unconvinced.
“It should still come to a vote in the State Legislature,” Giglio insisted. “They want $100 million for what — to finance political campaigns — when we can’t finance schools, hospitals and senior centers?”
Giglio, a former investigator in the state attorney general’s office, said, “And somehow this is supposed to curtail corruption? Setting limits would be more effective than taking money out of public coffers. New York City has tried this. It has also sparked corruption.”
He added, “We don’t have the money. There are other ways to curtail corruption. I have no problem with limits.”
Giglio said, “If we go back and you have to vote on this, it will die on the vine. That’s my hope — that we will go back and get a chance to vote on it.”
Giglio said he would not have been affected at the $10,400 limit on individual contributions, and won’t be affected by the $6,000 level, either.
Giglio, who hasn’t had an opponent in the past two election cycles, doesn’t have much of a campaign war chest.