By Allison Hayward
Last week’s arrest of city Comptroller John Liu’s treasurer, Jenny Hou, is just the latest in a string of fund-raising scandals that point to a core lesson. Using tax dollars to pay for political campaigns does little if anything to prevent corruption in government, and may even be a cause of it.
New York City’s tax-financed campaign system is called colloquially a “super match” program. Candidates get six dollars from city government for every dollar they raise independently (to a maximum of $1,050 per contributor). Individual private donations are strictly limited. Groups such as Common Cause tout such systems as a foolproof way to produce “clean” elections.
Just the latest case: City Comptroller John Liu (here at a Chinatown event) is beset by questions of campaign-finance abuse.