Poll: New York Business Leaders Overwhelmingly Support Reform Of State Campaign Finance Rules

Oct 25, 2012, 13:35 ET from Committee for Economic Development

Business Community Adds New Face to Campaign to Empower
Small Donors and Ordinary Citizens

NEW YORK, Oct. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New York business leaders believe the state's current campaign finance rules benefit major donors at the cost of ordinary citizens– and overwhelmingly want the system reformed, according to a first-of-its-kind survey.  Today in Manhattan, the Committee for Economic Development (CED) released results of a Zogby Analytics poll of 300 New York State business leaders. Poll results show that New York business leaders broadly support state campaign finance reform:

  • 70 percent of respondents support major changes in the way election campaigns are financed. 88 percent overall support making changes of some kind.
  • 62 percent of respondents believe corporate donations are bad for the political process.
  • Nearly 70 percent of respondents believe that elected officials in New York are more concerned with the needs of those who finance their campaigns than average New Yorkers. 

The findings add a new facet to the campaign to persuade New York legislators to fix the state's controversial campaign finance system.

"I work with businesses of all sizes on Long Island, and these poll results do not surprise me," said David L. Calone, CEO of Jove Equity Partners.  "Our leaders in Albany should be assured that if they take up campaign finance reform in a meaningful way, businesses across the state will be there to support them."  Calone is also a member of New York Leadership for Accountable Government (NY LEAD), a group of 95 business and civic leaders who support broad campaign finance reforms.

The poll found overwhelming disapproval among business leaders for New York's current campaign finance laws, which allow individuals to contribute up to $60,800 to an elected official.  Among the survey's findings:

  • 83 percent of business leaders agree that those who give the most get the most from elected officials in Albany.
  • Nearly 70 percent of business leaders believe that political contributions from corporations and labor unions have the most influence over a candidate.
  • Only 15 percent of business leaders surveyed believe that corporate contributions are good for the political process.
  • The Zogby poll also found that business leaders support the central principles of a small donor matching system, similar to that in use in New York City for more than two decades:
  • 82 percent of business leaders support creating a system that encourages candidates to fund their campaigns through a broad base of small dollar donors. Only 8 percent surveyed would oppose such an effort.
  • 72 percent of business leaders support creating a public financing system that gives citizens the incentive to give small dollar contributions.

"Special business interests make political donations for one purpose- to influence governments to do their bidding," said Jonathan F. P. Rose, President of Jonathan Rose Companies and member of NY LEAD. "Without campaign finance reform, democracy is at risk."

"Business leaders in the state are ready to support thoughtful reforms to our campaign finance system," said Jane Sherburne, BNY Mellon General Counsel and member of NY LEAD.  "The new poll demonstrates that they will stand behind legislators who are willing to take serious steps towards making our elections more transparent, fair and competitive."

On the influence of money in politics in Albany, the poll found that business leaders' views are almost identical to those of the public: "There's broad agreement between business leaders and the general public. Everyone wants meaningful reforms.  Albany needs to implement small donor matching, reduce contribution limits, increase transparency, put in place fair and nonpartisan enforcement of the rules, and close loopholes," said Kelly Williams, an attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice. 

"Business leaders are concerned about the effect of current fundraising practices because they believe the system as it exists does not serve the public's best interest or the interests of the business community," said Mike Petro, Acting President of CED. "Ultimately, it's about competition and thoughtful business leaders recognize that innovation in business and progress on job creation does not come from pursuing short-term gains in a pay-to-play culture, but through competition and innovation in an open marketplace."

About CED

CED is a non-profit, non-partisan business-led public policy organization. CED conducts research on major economic and social issues and actively informs and engages the business community in an effort to achieve policy reform for the good of the nation. Membership is made up of some 200 senior corporate executives and university leaders who lead CED's research and outreach efforts.

SOURCE Committee for Economic Development