Political Proving Ground
What better internship could there be for Hamilton’s former Student Assembly president than working at the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB)? Silvia Radulescu ’17 is spending her summer at the non-partisan, independent city agency whose mission is to improve campaigns and elections in the city by reducing the potential for corruption.
The CFB works to disclose campaign information to the public, strengthen the role of smaller contributors though its Matching Funds Program, and distill the campaign finance rules and regulations for campaigns. Radulescu’s internship is supported by the Levitt Center.
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
High School: Henry Clay High School
Radulescu works with candidate service liaisons, monitoring and assisting campaigns as they prepare financial disclosure reports. She is currently conducting an internal research project to draft standard guidance for topics and questions that are not specified in the Board Rules and Advisory Opinions. Once the draft is completed and reviewed by various units within the Campaign Finance Board, the document will serve as an internal resource across the agency for consistent campaign guidance.
“The CFB is notable for its ability to democratize politics and elections,” said Radulescu . “It encourages grassroots, small-donor-fed campaigns by providing monetary support that can compete with better funded campaigns; it empowers passionate candidates—those who may not have direct access to wealthy donors—to run for local office.
Radulescu recently attended the “Fighting Corruption in New York State” conference at Columbia Law School’s Center for the Advancement Public Integrity. Participants included representatives from the New York State Attorney General’s office, DA’s offices and other prosecuting authorities. Topics included use of New York State election law and anti-corruption law to combat public corruption, challenges of prosecuting white collar crimes and investigative tools and tactics for fighting corruption at the state and local levels. “Free and fair elections are the lifeblood of democracy, and so preserving the integrity of elections is one of the most important public service jobs in government,” she commented.
Through her internship Radulescu said she hopes to gain a fundamental understanding of campaign finance reform strategies. She added, “I also hope to take advantage of the Campaign Finance Board’s resources to explore the reasons behind the record-low voter turnout in municipal elections, nationwide.”
The government concentrator contends that “Municipal elections are just as important as federal elections. Contrary to what some believe, local governments are not limited to recycling programs and public park clean-up. Local governments deal with serious issues that impact our everyday lives,” Radulescu said, including immigrant legal services, subsidized housing, licensing and regulation for small businesses, to name a few.
“I’ve learned that local governments are much better designed to meet the specific challenges of our communities, and that the backgrounds of candidates running for municipal office are more diverse than those of candidates running at the state and federal levels,” she noted. “As a result, change is implemented faster at the local level, and constituents are appropriately represented.”
Radulescu has found her internship fulfilling. “Working in public service sparks a cycle of satisfaction and continued motivation that I haven’t been able to achieve in other fields of work,” she remarked. “I want to ultimately be that community leader who gets constituents involved and who spreads that motivation to others. In the meantime, I aim to be as involved in the empowerment of citizens as I can, and the first step is by working for an agency that seeks to eliminate corruption in campaigning.”