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Suffolk County repeals campaign finance with veto override

Office of Suffolk County Executive
Mercy Smith, executive director of Suffolk County's public campaign finance program.

The Suffolk County Legislature has again voted to repeal its public campaign finance program. Two-thirds of lawmakers overturned a veto by County Executive Steve Bellone last week.

The Republican-led legislature repealed the program last month, before its first payout for candidates running in 2023. The GOP would rather use the program’s $2.6 million on public safety, like hiring more 911 dispatch operators and Shotspotter gun-fire detection technology.

Bellone vetoed their repeal last week saying it would be a step backwards, making it harder for low-income women and people of color to compete against big donors. Republicans argued that legislators who receive large special interest donations could recuse themselves from votes when there’s a conflict of interest.

The Long Island Progressive Coalition called it a “dark day for democracy”.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.