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Cuomo Proposes Crackdown On Super PACs

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N.Y. Gov. Cuomo is proposing a crackdown on the coordination of candidates for office and the super PACS that are created to support their campaigns.

Super PACs, or independent expenditures, are permitted under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Cuomo says while we can’t overturn the ruling right away without changes to the Court, New York can act to make sure that super PACS really are independent, which he says have “become a mockery” and are used as a backdoor way around the state’s contribution limits.

“You have court decisions that have changed politics as we know it,” Cuomo said. “And literally have made the system all about money.”

Under the bill, the super PACs would have to disclose exactly who controls them, and reveal if anyone involved is a former staffer or even family member of the candidate. Major donors who give to both the candidate and a related super PAC would be scrutinized, as well as the sharing of office space or public relations consultants.

Cuomo’s top counsel also issued a memo that clarifies what is allowed under existing state law, and urges regulators to abide by the legal opinion.

The proposals were praised by many reform groups, though they say much more needs to be done to curb state government’s rampant corruption. It also received a positive response from Republicans who rule the state Senate. State Senate Leader John Flanagan (R-2) says he’s open to talking about adding the ideas to a reform package, saying the super PACs “cannot be fronts for coordinated efforts of candidates.” Assembly Democrats say they’ve already passed similar measures, and they support Cuomo’s efforts.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.