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Originally Published: February 17, 2009

Business interests dominate campaign donations; real estate and health care industries biggest corporate campaign contributors

Civic groups call for public financing of elections and other campaign reforms

Civic groups today released a report showing that over $94 million was raised by New York State
legislative candidates and political parties during the 2008 election cycle. The report found that
corporate interests more than doubled the amount of money donated by unions. The report, Capital
Investment$, found that nearly 40 percent of campaign dollars raised by state legislative candidates
during the 2007-2008 election cycle came from corporations and other business entities with real estate
and health care interest dominating.

In addition, only a tiny percentage of New Yorkers reported individual donations to legislative
candidates. According to the report, only 0.2% of adult New Yorkers were reported to have made direct
campaign contributions to candidates. One hundred and fifteen individuals donated more than the
state’s per capita income. Among the report’s other findings:

  • Majority party legislative candidates raised significantly more than minority party candidates.
  • Majority party legislative political committees raised well over two and a half times the amount of
    minority party political committees.
  • Campaign fundraising by incumbents dwarfed those of challengers.
  •  Candidates facing the toughest races received the greatest support from legislative party
    committees.
  • Those “marginal” (those individuals involved in the closest elections) candidates who had the
    most to spend usually won (20 out of 26)

The groups argued that their report showed the need for public financing of elections. The
groups charged that a tiny political elite funds New York legislative elections and, as such, puts
legislators under enormous pressure to respond to proposals offered by these entities. A system of
public financing would ensure that legislators are more responsive to all members of the public and goes
a long way toward limiting the pressure of special interest groups.

Download as a PDF: [bsk-pdf-manager-pdf id=”69″]

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