Ulster County Executive Mike Hein Unveils Comprehensive Campaign Finance Reform Proposal

Posted May 31, 2017

Ground-Breaking Proposal Establishes Model Campaign Finance Reform, Transparency And Accountability That Is Lauded By Statewide Good Government Groups 

Kingston, N.Y. – Joined by officials from New York State’s leading Good Government groups, County Legislators and others, County Executive Mike Hein unveiled a ground breaking comprehensive campaign finance reform proposal that looks to reform money in politics at the local level and make sure that democracy is open and available to everyone.  

Michael P. Hein, Ulster County Executive

“As Ulster County’s first County Executive, my administration has had the unique opportunity to tackle significant national issues at the local level by creating innovative solutions that can be replicated elsewhere” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein.  “Whether it was our effort to end homelessness among our Veterans with the Patriot’s Project or address generational poverty with a satellite community college right next to Kingston High School, we have shown that as a community we can deliver massive and much needed reform.  As we watch what has happened in Washington and Albany, my administration believes that we can once again design innovative solutions and put in place a comprehensive campaign finance reform law that sets an example for others to follow. I firmly believe that you should not have to be rich to run for public office.  Far too often we see many good people who want to make a difference in communities across our nation miss the opportunity because they are unable to compete financially.”

Blair Horner, Executive Director of New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)

"The Ulster County campaign finance initiative opens a new chapter on reforming the way elections for local government in New York are funded and creates an opportunity to invigorate democracy at the community level," said NYPIRG Executive Director Blair Horner.  "This proposal will help reduce pressure on businesses that believe they need to 'pay-to-play' and encourage small donors, giving grassroots candidates the ability to mount real campaigns.  NYPIRG is pleased to support County Executive Hein's efforts to advance a local public finance program that reduces the limits on political donations and addresses pay-to-play."

Dare Thompson, President of the New York State League of Women Voters

“Campaign finance reform is a high priority and we are happy to see reform beginning at the county level,” said Dare Thompson, President of the New York State League of Women Voters.

Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause

“Campaign Finance Reform is a very important issue for Common Cause,” said Susan Lerner.  “I am used to calling elected officials and asking them to support important legislation like the local law being introduced today, so you can imagine my surprise when I received a call from County Executive Mike Hein asking me to do the same.  This local law helps take money out of politics, and it has my full support.” 

Peter Loughran, Ulster County Legislator

“I am honored to sponsor this local law,” said Ulster County Legislator Peter Loughran.  “True and comprehensive campaign finance reform has been a focus of mine for many years, and this well-thought out local law designed in conjunction with statewide good government groups ensures Ulster County once again becomes a model for others to follow. I hope that this local law as written will have broad support in the Legislature on both sides of the aisle.”

 The proposed “Comprehensive Campaign Finance Reform and Accountability Act,” establishes reduced campaign contribution limits for all candidates seeking office in Ulster County Government.  It also sets “pay to play” limits for those doing business with the County to eliminate outside influence in government. This law would provide a minimum and maximum amount of public funding to be available in any election year depending on the County’s fiscal health.  To ensure clean and fair elections this proposed local law establishes a model Public Campaign Financing Match Program that will encourage citizen involvement, reduce the influence of special interests and provide continued fiscal responsibility to taxpayers.  Additionally, it establishes enhanced disclosure requirements and an independent Commission on Public Finance to administer and enforce the new law and make recommendations with regard to the adequacy of public financing and the impact on the County Budget.

“I want to thank the members of the County Legislature who stepped forward and agreed to sponsor this comprehensive campaign finance reform package.  By standing up and talking a leadership role they are providing a great service to the people of Ulster County to not only preserve, but strengthen our democratic process,” concluded the County Executive.

Attached below: Local Law Summary

Pictured below: (from left): Peter Loughran, Ulster County Legislator; Russ Haven, Esq., Legislative Council, NYPIRG; Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause; Ulster County Executive Mike Hein; Dare Thompson, President, League of Women Voters of New York State; James McGarry from League of Women Voters of Mid-Hudson Region; and Jean McGarry from League of Women Voters of Mid-Hudson Region.