Cuomo: Campaign Finance Reform Tops Priorities

ALBANY (AP) -

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday unveiled a new proposal to close a campaign finance loophole linked to Albany’s culture of corruption, naming it one of his top legislative priorities as lawmakers enter the final days of their session.

Other items on the governor’s agenda: approving a ballot question to allow judges to strip the pensions of corrupt politicians and a measure making it easier for women to get screened for cancer.

The campaign finance and ethics reforms, however, are likely to run into the greatest opposition in the Legislature.

The so-called LLC loophole allows limited liability companies to skirt existing donation limits and pump huge sums into political races without much disclosure. Cuomo’s proposal includes eight options for closing the loophole, including some that would apply only to non-legislative races and one that would only apply to gubernatorial races.

If lawmakers continue to balk at closing the loophole when it comes to their own re-election bids, Cuomo said he’d be willing to have the gubernatorial loophole closed first. “I’m willing to go first, to go it alone,” he said.

The state Senate has so far blocked efforts to broadly close the loophole. On Tuesday, Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan dismissed Cuomo’s new approach as a “red herring” that ignores other problems in state finance laws.