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'Caravan of Corruption' Makes Kisco Stop

Coalition of groups stop in village to call for campaign finance reform.

Disgraced ex-state Senator Vincent Leibell may be in prison but his caricatured likeness made a Tuesday stop in Mount Kisco.

The large image of a whispering Leibell, whose district included the village, was one of many similar likenesses of convicted state politicians posted in the Mount Kisco Public Library for a stop of the Caravan of Corruption. 

Jessica Wisneski, campaigns director for a group called Citizen Action of New York, said the caravan came to Mount Kisco because the village was part of Leibell's district and because it's set in the 40th senate district, which is experiencing a contentious race between Republican incumbent Greg Ball and Democratic challenger Justin Wagner. 

The caravan is a project of a group called the Fair Elections for New York Campaign. It, along with a coalition of likeminded groups, support a bundle of campaign finance reform proposals, which supporters argue are to limit the influence of money and special interests. The reforms include a voluntary public financing system to help small donors through matching contributions, lowering campaign contribution limits to candidates, and banning contributions from lobbyists and contractors meant to influence state business.

Before a group of supporters, speaker after speaker hammered what they see as a rising tide of powerful and rich benefactors for politicians, therby undermining the people's will. They included an endorsement of the mission by Wagner (D-Croton-on-Hudson), who is running for a seat that includes much of Leibell's former district and made a visit to the caravan.

"Who cares about our safety when there's money to be made?" said Charlie Vella, a communications assistant who made a theatrical performance in a top hat and red suit costume.

"We need to end the legalized bribery happening every day in New York State," Vella added. "We need fair elections now."

Nick Nyhart, president of a group called Public Campaign, described a status quo in America where ads bought by the powerful and wealthy are dominant.

"Thoe ads," he said in referring to a blitz in Las Vegas, "asre not paid for by people like you and me."

Folks at the meeting, which included support from liberal groups such as Move On, were not fans of elected Republicans in the region. Ball and Congresswoman Nan Hayworth were singled out as example of folks who were believed to be indifferent to or against reform.

At the end of the tour stop - the caravan has nine of them altogether, according to Wisneski - people were encouraged to urge politicians to support the proposed changes.

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