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Balter refuses to take corporate PAC money, trails Katko by $1.5M

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Dana Balter at campaign headquarters in Syracuse.

Democratic congressional candidate Dana Balter is refusing to accept donations from corporate PACs, or political action committees. Balter, who is running in the 24th Congressional District, outlined an agenda focused on campaign finance reform, transparency and constituent engagement.

Balter said it is critically important to know where candidates and elected officials are getting their money from.

“Money buys influence,” Balter said. “If you are dependent on corporate PACs for your campaign funding, that means that those corporate interests have your ear and attention. It blurs the lines of who as an elected, you are accountable to.”

Balter said almost all of her fundraising comes from small dollar donations from thousands of people and she criticized Katko for accepting corporate PAC money. But Balter trails Katko by almost $1.5 million in fundraising.

She said she supports legislation that requires organizations that spend $10,000 or more on election ads to disclose their donors. It would also require corporations to disclose their campaign-related spending to shareholders.    

"That kind of funding, coming from interests that are not representative of the interests of the people, is incredibly concerning," Balter said. "One thing we've seen the American people rise up and demand is clarity about who their government is accountable to. People want to make sure that our government is working in our interests. Corporate PAC money undermines that objective."

Balter said Katko has not held an open, public town hall in the 24th Congressoinal District, and that she would hold four every year with no pre-screened questions. Katko announced last week he would be holding town hall-style meetings during the August recess.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.