Soros claimed he would launch multi-million dollar TV ads against Cuomo and other state leaders if the inclusion was not made.
Republican Senator Dean Skelos (Nassau) stood against the measure but Cuomo, Democrat Jeff Klein (Bronx), Speaker Sheldon Silver as well as other Government groups supported the idea of blocking GOP supported private sector groups from participating in private elections.
Skelos finally agreed to an odd form of the plan, one that called for publicly funding a campaign this year only. The comptroller’s race would allow public funding but the Governor, Attorney General and Legislature were not included.
Klein butted heads with Skelos over the limited plan and threatened to hold up the entire budget.
The governor was known to tell Klein that if he disagreed with the limited acceptance by Skelos than their co leadership was essentially over. Cuomo encouraged Klein not to attack the limited agreement fearing he too would come under attack.
Klein ultimately agreed. His statement Saturday on the final budget agreement contained only these tepid words: “Our work on campaign-finance reform is not yet done, and as part of the budget process, we must continue to negotiate towards a comprehensive system of public financing.”
Klein seems to be acting on fears that potential challenger Oliver Koppel, a former Attorney General and City Councilman will oppose him with backing from Soros.
Koppel has stated that he will only run if he has support of politically powerful labor unions and key donor support such as Soros.
Soros founded the Friends of Democracy PAC in 2012. His action committee with a staff of three was successful in assisting 7 candidates to victory out the 8 they supported. The 1.7 million dollars spent went toward candidates that were in favor of strengthening election law enforcement and institute publicly financed elections.
The group is eager to jump into elections around the country but they are building a foundation in New York. New York is not only a state sensitive to political money movements but it has also seen the most traction in publicly funded elections and campaign reform.
Soros was has gone on to say that Cuomo cited campaign reform during his campaign and it is one thing that he has not followed through on yet. Perhaps this small nudge toward publicly funded campaigns by allowing one in this year’s comptroller’s race will be the beginning of a larger inclusion on all State political elections.