ALBANY — In New York state government news, Republicans say Gov. Andrew Cuomo is playing politics with a board creating the rules for a new public campaign finance system.
State Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy says Cuomo's appointment of Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs shows Democrats are trying to hijack a commission that should be apolitical.
The legislature and Cuomo created the public campaign finance task force earlier this year to set the guidelines for a $100 million program to provide public campaign financing to candidates in exchange for small private donations.
Known as a small donor matching program, the system is intended to reduce the role of deep-pocketed donors and corporations who have long held sway in Albany. The 10-member task force has until December to announce the rules, which will become law unless lawmakers hold a rare end-of-year special session to reject them.
Cuomo and legislative leaders from both parties announced their appointees to the commission earlier this month, and Republicans aren't happy about Cuomo's picks. Speaking to reporters at the Capitol last week, Langworthy was especially critical of Cuomo's decision to tap Jay Jacobs, Langworthy's counterpart and the chairman of the state Democratic Party.
He said Jacobs' appointment shows Democrats plan to hijack the task force and use it to craft rules that benefit their candidates at the expense of Republicans, who are wary of public financing as a waste of tax money. The task force should be apolitical, he said, instead of dominated by the same party that already controls the Senate, Assembly and all four statewide offices.
"This is like putting the hen in charge of the henhouse," he told
Cuomo shrugged off Langworthy's complaint, noting that the minority leaders in the Senate and Assembly got to appoint members to the task force as well, and were free to select anyone they wanted.
"They appointed who they wanted to appoint and I appointed who I wanted to appoint," he said. "Their appointees have political relationships and knowledge and my appointees have political relationships and knowledge."
Indeed, the two appointments from Republicans include a former chief counsel to the Senate Republicans and a top attorney at the state's Board of Elections who had previously served as chief of staff to the Assembly Republican leader.