One of the most interesting features of this year’s campaign against a Constitutional Convention is the broad coalition assembled against it. New Yorkers Against Corruption, the organization encouraging voters to vote No in November, encompasses groups like the Working Families and Conservative Parties that would normally never see eye-to-eye. And that leads to some interesting, contradictory rhetoric.
Remind me, what is this?
Every 20 years, New York votes on whether to hold a constitutional convention or ConCon. A Constitutional Convention hasn’t happened since the 1960’s but advocates think now is the best opportunity in decades.
If New Yorkers vote to hold a Constitutional Convention, we would then vote on delegates in November 2018. They would meet in 2019 and then in November 2019, New Yorkers would vote on whether to ratify the proposed amendments or reject them.
So what’s going on?
Opponents of a Constitutional Convention, have dramatically outspent supporters of the ConCon. New Yorkers Against Corruption, the main anti- group has raised $635,300 to spend on the referendum campaign. The two main organizations calling for a ConCon, the Committee for a Constitutional Convention and NY People’s Convention PAC, have raised a combined total of $229,506.05 as of July, according to the Board of Elections finance reports.
With that wide coalition opposing the Convention, there are some seeming ideological discrepancies. For instance, there’s both a website from Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts and another from NYS Right to Life.
The Planned Parenthood one warns, “We see this process as vulnerable to insiders and conservative outsiders with big wallets that can make us as a state go backward instead of forward.”
Women in New York could be left without the legal right to make fundamental decisions about their own bodies.
NYS Right to Life has the exact opposite fear, cautioning:
Abortion extremists will hijack a Constitutional Convention to support their radical pro-abortion agenda.
The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association calls for gun owners to vote against the Convention because it “will be run by New York City special interest groups.” Meanwhile,
There’s something interesting
Both Protect Life, Vote No and Protect Gun Rights, Vote No were paid for by New Yorkers Against Corruption, the coalition group advocating a vote against calling a constitutional convention. And New Yorkers Against Corruption is also running ads to those sites.
At least as of July, virtually all the money New Yorkers Against Corruption raised came from labor unions. They count Planned Parenthood as a supporter. And yet, they’re spending money telling New Yorkers that they need to vote against a Constitutional Convention to stop late abortions from becoming legal.
What do they say?
Laurie Whiting of New York State Right to Life commented: “This coalition is unique, with people who have opposing views joining together to stop a process that has no rules or limitations and could fundamentally alter the way we live.”
Jordan Marks, campaign manager of New Yorkers Against Corruption praised this diversity as a strength, saying:
Our coalition is unique. Passionate people with opposing views, rarely join forces to advocate for a particular issue. However, deep distrust in Albany combined wth a process shrouded in secrecy has brought people across the political spectrum together. Our coalition is giving those forces a voice and ability to communicate with their very different constituencies.
However, Al Benninghoff, the campaign manager in support of the Constitutional Convention hit back at this:
The cynical consortium of special interests aligned to defeat the constitutional convention have made it clear that they are willing to do or say anything–no matter how false or unethical–to deceive New Yorkers and deny them a chance to take back their government from the corrupt status quo.
Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts and the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association did not return requests for comment.