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The Empire

Two Months In, Occupy Albany Outlines Demands

By WNYC's Yasmeen Khan

After spending two months camped out in Lafayette Park, across from the State Capitol building, Occupy Albany protesters are issuing demands, and with a national focus. They're "developing a strategic road map to address, in the near term, the issues of campaign finance, lobbying influence, and the revolving door."

They outlined the demands in a press conference on Tuesday, and Matthew Edge, an Occupy Albany Political Strategy Working Group member, elaborated on those demands today on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show.

The movement's priorities include repealing corporate personhood (referring to the Citizens United case in which the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same rights as individuals) and changing the incentives structure for elected officials, so that they are working solely for constituents and not for donors, Edge said.

He said the the Political Strategy Working Group is actually looking to follow the example set by Maine and its clean elections law.

"It allows for everyone running for office to essentially have the same amount of money to run. So they can win based on their ideas, and not based on just how much money they can raise. And once they're elected, since agreeing to opt into the public funding system, the clean elections system requires them to agree not to accept any private contributions. So that seems to be -- while it's not the end all, be all -- the first step."

In this exchange with Brian Lehrer, Edge explained why taking money out of politics is a "99 percent" issue, and how Occupy Albany decided to make the issue its platform.

Edge joined The Brian Lehrer Show as Occupy Albany protesters face a deadline: their permit to occupy Lafayette Park expires on Thursday. They've planned a Keep the Park rally for tomorrow evening. Edge said while the park is symbolic, "the movement will continue regardless."