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Moreland Commission can't agree on public financing system

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Albany/HV: Moreland Commission can't agree on public financing system
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Following Monday's report from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s corruption busting Moreland Commission, the battle lines are being drawn in Albany. While the commission released several recommendations, the main sticking point remains whether or not political campaigns should be financed by the public. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman reports.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A day after his anti-corruption commission released a report outlining Albany's bad behavior, Governor Andrew Cuomo seized on the recommendations where the panel found common ground: Better enforcement of campaign finance laws, stronger anti-bribery measures and broader disclosure of political donations.

"These are inarguable in the report and I believe there is consensus around those points and those are issues we should move forward on," Cuomo said.

But Cuomo acknowledged there was a split on the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption when it came to a public financing system. Seven members, all of whom were appointed by the governor, wrote they opposed public financing. The governor to reporters on Tuesday focused on areas of agreement that could be made law.

Cuomo said, "There was a dissent and there is political division on the question of public finance. But there are a lot of other elements in the report where there was no dissent and there was no division."

After the governor made those comments, his director of communications released a statement saying Cuomo remains unequivocally in favor of public financing of political campaigns and that his comments were being misconstrued. Regardless, the public financing dissent in the report emboldened critics of the proposal.

"All the members of the Moreland Commission agreed, but on this one, seven of them had a different opinion, which, to us, says it's not the cure all people think it's going to be," said Brian Sampson, Unshackle Upstate Executive Director.

Public financing is opposed by Senate Republicans who question the cost of a taxpayer funded matching system. But supporters of public financing say it's the best way to dilute big money in politics.

"We're all concerned about the flood of corporate money and independent expenditures. Unfortunately, we can't stop that, so all we can do is provide an alternative and the only alternative is a small donor matching fund that helps counter that alternative," said Karen Scharff of Citizen Action.

Tuesday evening, Cuomo is due to attend a campaign fundraiser with performer Billy Joel. Tickets for the event run as high as $50,000.

For advisors to the Moreland Commission, the fundraiser is another example of how the system needs to be reformed.

"What that shows is the status quo should not continue to work. But right now, politicians work under that status quo," said Barbara Bartoletti, League of Women Voters Legislative Director.

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