State campaign finance task force appointed

Jul 5, 2019

State leaders have tapped 10 people, including one Buffalonian, for a task force that will create the rules governing the state's new $100 million public campaign finance system.

Lawmakers voted this year to create a public finance system that provides matching funds to statewide and legislative candidates who receive small private campaign contributions. It is seen as a way to encourage candidates to rely on smaller contributions from everyday voters instead of large sums from wealthy donors and corporations.

On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and legislative leaders from both parties announced their appointments to the task force created to work out the details. They include experts on election law and campaign finance.

The Governor appointed:

  • Mylan Denerstein, a litigation partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and Co-Chair of Gibson Dunn's Public Policy Practice Group. Ms. Denerstein previously served as Counsel to the Governor from 2011 to 2014. Prior to that she served as the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice and Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs for the New York City Fire Department and as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
  • Jay Jacobs, current Chairman of the State Democratic Party and longtime Chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Party. Jacobs was first elected to the position of Nassau County Democratic Chairman in 2001, and served as the Chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee from 2009 to 2012, returning to the post in 2019. He is also an at large member of the Democratic National Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins appointed:

  • DeNora Getachew, New York City Executive Director of Generation Citizen. Getachew was previously Campaign Manager and Legislative Counsel for the Brennan Center's Democracy Program and Policy Director for the Public Advocate's Office.
  • John Nonna, County Attorney for Westchester county and co-founder of the Democratic Lawyers Council. Nonna previously served as a Westchester County Legislator and as Mayor of Pleasantville.

Crystal Rodriguez, Chief of Staff for Buffalo State College President Catherine Conway-Turner, is the one Western New Yorker appointed to the task force.
Credit Buffalo State College

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie appointed:

  • Rosanna Vargas, currently serving as associate law clerk to a NYC Civil Court Judge in Bronx County criminal court. Prior to that, Vargas served as the Bronx Democratic Commissioner and later as the President of the Board of Commissioners for the Board of Elections of the City of New York. Vargas also has commercial litigation experience representing clients in trials, mediations and arbitrations in state and federal courts.
  • Crystal Rodriguez, current chief of staff to Buffalo State College President Katherine S. Conway-Turner. Previously, Rodriguez was the chief diversity officer for the City of Buffalo where she developed the Opportunity Pledge to encourage diversity and provide opportunity to all in Buffalo, and made it easier for businesses to apply for New York State's Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises certification. Prior to working for the City of Buffalo, she served as a law clerk in the New York State Unified Court System and worked as an adjunct professor at SUNY Buffalo.

At large seat jointly selected by the Governor, the Assembly Speaker and the Majority Leader:

  • Henry Berger, an election law attorney with more than 40 years of experience litigating issues in state and national elections. He is also a former Special Counsel for the City of New York.  

Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan appointed:

  • David Previte, principal attorney at Hinman Straub, PC and former Chief Counsel to the New York State Senate Majority.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb appointed:

  • Kimberly Galvin, Co-Counsel and Co-Director of the State Board of Elections' Campaign Finance Compliance Unit. Galvin previously served as Chief of Staff and Counsel to the Republican Leader in the New York State Assembly.

Their findings are due by December 1 and will become law unless rejected by the Legislature within 20 days.