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Buying power


A new report from the New York Public Interest Research Group says that state legislators representing the Rochester region relied heavily on campaign donations from lobbying and special interest groups in 2012. | The report says the 18 legislators representing counties in the Rochester region brought in $2.1 million from lobbying firms and their clients, business groups, trade associations, union political action committees, and nonprofits. The analysis includes districts in Monroe, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston, Ontario, and Wayne counties, according to a NYPIRG press release. | NYPIRG says it's not implying "a cause-and-effect relationship between campaign donations and legislative or other government action." | But the contributions do help donors gain access to elected officials. And that means legislators may get to hear an interest's side of an issue, but not an average constituent's opinion. | Industry and interest groups also tend to contribute heavily to the chairs of legislative committees dealing with legislation that affects them. | NYPIRG and other good government groups are pushing state legislators to adopt a public campaign finance system. They see a system with publicly funded matching contributions for candidates who collect small donations as a way to counter the influence of large donors.