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Ceretto Speaks Out Against Liberal
Albany Campaign Funding Agenda

By Mike Hudson

Instead of elections by, for, and of the people, it become elections by, for, and of the government. "The road to success isn't asking for a handout, it is hard work," John Ceretto said. He is living in a 1100 sq foot ranch with three bedrooms and one bathroom, the same house he raised three children in. "I was able to make it, through hard work, to the Assembly, but I did not force anybody to pay for my dream. Democrats could not name the amount the taxpayers funding elections would cost, but estimates range for $200 to $600 million per election cycle. "It is not the America I know," Ceretto said.

An election by the people is different than an election by the government. And John Ceretto to his credit got up and made a speech in the Assembly that would do Daniel Webster proud. But if Ceretto is Daniel Webster than who the hell is the Devil?

The liberal New York City-based cabal, long in control of the New York State Assembly, tried to put one past state taxpayers last week, with a bill that would pump public money into campaigns and limit spending in such a way that would benefit incumbents and, by extension, themselves.

Organized protests, primarily staged by public employee unions with a vested interest in seeing liberal downstate Dems returned to office year after nauseating year, were staged in Albany urging lawmakers to pass the bill.

In the State Assembly, where Democratic New York City politicians have often provided easy targets for FBI agents trolling for public corruption cases, support for the taxpayer funding measure was strong. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has long believed that the people of New York State ought to pay for everything he and his associates do.

Niagara Falls Assemblyman John Ceretto was a lonely voice opposing the measure. He voted against the Assembly’s bill for Taxpayer Funded Campaigns because it is funded by taxpayer money through the state’s General Fund.

While Ceretto said he favors competitive elections and good government reforms, this bill does not solve the problem.

There are much more pressing items that need funding before elections, most notably programs for people with developmental disabilities, he argued.

Ceretto cited federal corruption cases against four downstate Democratic lawmakers in the last four weeks and 32 others over the last seven years in his arguments, as lawmakers face the final seven weeks of their legislative session.

“If we are going to do campaign finance reform, we need to do it right. Unfortunately, this bill is modeled after the failed taxpayer funded system in New York City that has enabled widespread corruption,” Ceretto said.

His simple rhetoric managed to turn the argument from one of campaign finance reform - where Silver and the protesters wanted it - into one concerning yet another grab for power and cash by a greedy Assembly leadership.

Quite simply, Ceretto said he’s against using what he estimates would be $600 million to create a statewide system of publicly financed campaigns when schools, programs for the disabled and other needs are seeing cuts or flat spending in these hard fiscal times.

“We cannot afford this when Niagara Falls is on the verge of financial crisis, and we cannot afford this when our school districts are forced to do more with less every year,” said Ceretto. “Addressing taxpayer funded campaigns before addressing all of these problems is a classic case of misplaced priorities,” he added.

He also noted one of the most recent corruption cases involves State Sen. Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, accused of trying to bribe his way into the New York City mayoral race, where his campaign contributions could be matched 6-to-1 with public money under the city's public financing system.

“It hasn’t worked in New York City and there’s no reason to believe it would work on a statewide level either,” Ceretto told the Niagara Falls Reporter.

More than 70 Democratic Assembly members supported public financing of state political campaigns. Most hold carefully gerrymandered seats that they can most likely keep for as long as they want,

That’s because Democrats outnumber Republicans in these districts by margins of 3- and even 6-to-1. But these liberal legislators want taxpayers to pony up tens of thousands of dollars every two years for their re-election races.

Taxpayer funded political campaigns are the dream of public-sector unions and Democratic legislators. It provides a near perfect system for keeping outside candidates from challenging Albany's business-as-usual on anything like equal ground.

Public financing would provide challengers with some money, but it would also cap overall spending. That's a huge advantage to incumbents, who benefit from name recognition from years of past campaigning.

All attempts to limit campaign spending - by utilizing public funding - favors incumbents, who enjoy postal franking privileges, media coverage and name recognition as a matter of course and are not included in spending totals.

While the public finance measure passed easily in the Assembly despite Ceretto’s opposition, it is doomed in the state Senate where neither party has a clear majority, despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to drum up some bipartisan support.

“Aside from concerns about where¬† money might come from, this is clearly an effort by the entrenched liberal Democratic machine to protect its own power base,” New York State Sen. George Maziarz said. “By disguising it as ‘campaign finance reform,’ they hoped to fool the voters, but it hasn’t happened.”

These sorts of initiatives also fly in the face of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which ensures that all of us have freedom of speech, even when such speech involves putting your money where your mouth is.

That such measures would be backed by public employee unions and liberal Democratic politicians is not surprising. Neither group has much interest in seeing candidates elected by an informed public willing to put their own money on the line in order to ensure the return of good government here.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

May 14, 2013