Voting Rights Watchdog to Governors, Mayors: Shut Down Political Non-profits

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A voting-rights watchdog group says New York Mayor Bill de Blasio set the bar recently when he announced he is closing a controversial non-profit group created to support his political agenda.

The organization, Common Cause, is now urging governors, mayors and other elected officials to follow his example.

“Americans from all political perspectives are coming together to reject the influence of money on our democracy and secret money in particular,” said Common Cause President Miles Rapoport. “This is how wealthy special interests buy access and influence. As these trends move from the national to local politics, their impact could be devastating.  De Blasio set an example other politicians should follow – listen to the people and close these personal political slush funds.”

Under pressure from Common Cause’s New York office, de Blasio announced he will close the Campaign for One New York, an organization the good government watchdog group said was skirting campaign finance laws to raise money to support the mayor’s policies and programs.

Similar groups are springing up in other states and localities. In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder tapped funds raised by his Moving Michigan Forward organization to hire public relations experts to deal with the political fallout from the Flint water crisis as it became national news.

Common Cause’s Michigan office is demanding more transparency from Snyder, about both emails and other correspondence that could answer the people’s questions about the chain of events leading to the Flint water crisis. Common Cause Michigan is also urging Snyder to reveal contributors and other information about the non-profit that is paying for his public relations offensive. Gov. Snyder testified before Congress this morning, attempting to shift blame away from his administration and Flint’s emergency managers as part of this PR blitz.

“Common Cause New York does not accept that secret money is a necessary function of the modern mayoralty and we are pleased to read that the Mayor will be shutting down the Campaign for One New York,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York. “It does not serve the public interest to have a shadow government, serving only to breed mistrust and confusion among voters. This is the right decision which we hope others will follow.”

Last month, Common Cause New York sent a letter to New York’s Conflicts of Interest Board and the Campaign Finance Board requesting an investigation into the Campaign for One New York.

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