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Campaign Reform


Dear Mr. Murphy:

Legislator Schneiderman touts his half-hearted campaign bill as an attempt to end the pay to play process in government. Interestingly, he never proposed such a reform when he was the Supervisor of East Hampton Town, and took a large amount of donations from companies that did business with the town. Nor has it restricted him from accepting monies from companies that presently do business with the County. One of them is his landlord who gave Mr. Schneiderman over $5000 in donations after Mr. Schneiderman decided to use the premises as his district office.

He was also not shy about accepting money from labor unions whose contracts he would vote upon, or various engineering firms that contract with the County. Hopefully, Mr. Schneiderman will support legislation that is currently being crafted by the County Executive, which will provide the County's most comprehensive campaign reform in the County's history. The bill will create a public financing system, whereby candidates could tap a pool of money without having to seek private donations. The bill would also limit the donations from various entities such as political action committees and firms that do business with the County.

In The Independent article, Schneiderman's aide notes that the Schneiderman bill could not be implemented without State approval, yet he says that it can be done voluntarily. But any campaign finance follower knows that voluntary limits only work when they are commensurate with a public financing system. The deal is that if you accept the money from the campaign finance fund, you are thereby required to limit your acceptance of donations from various donors.

Finally, it has to be noted that whether a bill sponsored by the County Executive, Mr. Schneiderman or anyone else for that matter were to pass, it would still have no bearing on individuals such as those involved in the paving cartels who allegedly seek to break the law. The fact that some of these groups gave to a candidate for the Legislature or the Executive's campaign has no bearing on whether or not those cartel members engaged in colluding amongst themselves. Laws were already on the books making it illegal to engage in the type of conspiracy they are alleged to have perpetrated.

Assistant County Executive

TODD STEBBINS
June 20, 2006

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