Monthly Archives: April 2015

State Senate Democrats Seek to End LLC Loohole

Casey Seiler reports in the Times Union that   “the state Senate minority on pushed for legislative action on a bill that would close the loophole that allows limited liability companies to donate as if they were individual entities and not tentacles of larger business concerns, thereby multiplying the force of deep-pocketed political donors’ dollars.”

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State Senate Elections Committee To Address LLC Loophole

THe Gotham Gazette reports that “The State Senate Elections Committee is expected to vote Monday whether to advance a bill that would close a controversial loophole in state election law that allows wealthy donors to pour unlimited cash into campaign coffers through the use of multiple limited liability corporations, or LLCs.”

The legislation is being sponsored by Democratic Senator Daniel Squadron.

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Federal Judge OKs Albany County’s New Political Map

Federal Judge Lawrence Kahn approved the remedial remap of the Albany County Legislature following a Voting Rights Act challenge, reports Jordan Carleo-Evangelist in today’s Times Union. The new plan adds a fifth minority district to the county legisature’s configuration. The court denied a local Democratic Party’s effort to delay implementation after a local political leader’s home was redistricted out of his former district (not even a 14th Amendment claim would carry forward that argument- ed.)

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NEWSDAY: Liberate Voters From Tricky Label

Newsday editorializes today on the State Board Of Elections decision to add a space for new voters to check “other” instead of listing themselves as ‘blank.” This change also goes to ending the confusion for voters who register as members of the Independence Party. “Independence” is not “independent.” Newsday advises going a step further, making the Independence Party change its name as well.

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NY Times Editorial: Voting Rights Act: By The Numbers

The New York Times today published an editorial calling for the need to combat the new flood of discriminatory voting laws within the surviving portions of the federal Voting Rights Act. The editorial reviews data from a new study on the VRA by  J. Morgan Kousser from Cal Tech. Professor Kousser reviewed empirical data  from thousands of VRA  cases  to show how the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision was wrongly decided.

It is worth noting that New York’s own record for Section 5 preclearance approvals was not stellar during the state’s thirty years under Section 5. Several statewide and New York City redistricting plans were either rejected or ran into problems at DOJ through the 1990s.

While the Justice Department precleared nearly every state and local redistricting plan after the 2010 census (except for the Texas House and congressional plans later rejected by courts), New York had a bumpy road at DOJ from the early 1970s through the post-1990s redistrictings (even though there were alleged political reasons for rejecting the 1992 Assembly plan). It was not until the 2002-3 round of state legislative and NYC city council redistrictings where New York State and City sailed through. Part of that reason was because racial polarization tests were conducted  before state assembly and city council plans were enacted, enabling redistricters to know whether plans were retrogressive before being submitted to DOJ.

Readers might be interested in a report on New York’s VRA history in a report authored by Juan Cartegena  at Latino Justice for the 2006 VRA reauthorization debate. A copy of that report can be accessed here.


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State Board of Election Deadlocks LLC Reclassifications

State Of Politics reports that the State Board Of Elections failed to reach agree,net to change the classification of LLCs today.

“The board, following a discussion about the influence of money in state politics and the merits of free speech in political donations, deadlocked its vote between the two Republican and two Democratic commissioners.”

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GOP Board Of Elections Co-Chair Replaced

Casey Seiler reports this morning in the Times Union that James Walsh, the Republican co-chair of the State Board of Elections, will be filled by Peter Kosinski, a former executive director of the board who left in 2008 to serve as counsel to the Senate Republican majority. The Board meets today where the LLC loophole will be considered at the request of Democratic members.

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Albany County Adopts a New Redistricting Map

Just in time to meet a court deadline, Albany County has approved a new county legislative map to remedy Voting RIghts Act violations.. Read about it here and here

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Reform Groups, AG Schneiderman, Kavanagh, Squadron to BOE: Close the LLC loophole

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Senator Daniel Squadron have sent a letter to the State Board Of Elections asking the Board to close the LLC loophole at their meeting scheduled for noon Thursday, according to Casey Seiler in the Times Union.

The legislators join Attorney General Schneiderman who sent his own letter to the Board.

A group of government reform organizations also plan to attend the meeting. An announcement  (with background material) reads:

Fair Elections Advocates Sit In on State Board of Elections Meeting

Demand Closure of Infamous LLC Campaign Finance Loophole 

Who:    Lawrence Norden, Brennan Center for Justice

Rachael Fauss, Citizens Union

Lauren George, Common Cause New York

Laura Ladd Bierman, League of Women Voters

Jessica Wisnieski, Citizen Action of New York

All above parties available for interviews following meeting

What:    New York State Board of Elections Commissioners Meeting

When:   12:00pm Thursday, April 16, 2015

Where:  New York State Board of Elections
40 North Pearl Street, Suite 5
Albany, NY 12207

Notes:  This week, advocates have mobilized over 4,000 comments from New Yorkers to the Board of Elections (BOE) urging them to take action to close the LLC loophole, which allows donors to circumvent contribution limits and disclosure requirements that protect election integrity. On Thursday, April 9, the Brennan Center and Emery Celli Brinkerhoff & Abady LLP sent a letterto the BOE asking it to reverse its misguided 1996 ruling that created the LLC Loophole. Good government groups sent a letter to Governor Cuomo on Monday asking for his help in pushing the BOE to act.

LLCs are used by a wide variety of industries to circumvent the $5,000 annual corporate limit because our state treats them as “individuals” rather than corporations. This “corporate personhood” status held by LLCs is the result of an advisory opinion issued by the State Board of Elections in 1996.  The Federal Elections Commission treats LLCs as corporations or partnerships rather than individuals, and New York should do the same.


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Stroock Law Firm Sponsoring May 6 Session: Is New York Still a Democracy?

Is New York Still A Democracy?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Please join us as Stroock hosts another Government Leadership forum featuring Congressman Jerrold “Jerry” Nadler, DeNora M. Getachew, Campaign Manager and Legislative Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and Douglas A. Kellner, Co-Chair of the New York State Board of Elections. They will discuss voter participation in New York (our state is ranked 49th!), and how to improve it.

Robert Abrams, former New York State Attorney General and Chair of Stroock’s Government Relations Practice and Jerry H. Goldfeder, Stroock Special Counsel and Election Law attorney will moderate this panel discussion.

Jerry Nadler Jerrold “Jerry” Nadler represents the Tenth Congressional District of New York, which includes much of the West Side of Manhattan, the Financial District and a number of diverse neighborhoods in southwestern Brooklyn. He began his political career in 1976 in the New York State Assembly, where he served for 16 years. Jerry was elected in 1992 to the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election and has served in Congress ever since. (Click here to read full biography.)
DeNora M. Getachew DeNora M. Getachew is the Campaign Manager and Legislative Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. In this capacity, she manages advocacy initiatives aimed at improving our nation’s democracy. DeNora also serves as First Vice-Chair of Manhattan Community Board 7 and is a board member and co-chair of the benefit committee of Union Settlement, an on-the-ground resource for the East Harlem community. (Click here to read full biography.)
Douglas A. Kellner Douglas A. Kellner is Co-Chair of the New York State Board of Elections and a partner at Kellner Herlihy Getty & Friedman LLP. He founded the Community Renaissance Corporation of Harlem and Washington Heights and the Manhattan Valley Housing Clinic, and has also served as counsel to the New York State Assembly Banking Committee. Doug is a frequent media commentator on New York State election laws and practices. (Click here to read full biography.)
Wednesday, May 6, 2015

8:30AM – 9:00AM Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:00AM – 10:00AM Program

180 Maiden Lane
New York, NY
38th floor

RSVP by May 1, 2015Forward to a colleague

There is no cost for this event

If you have questions, please contact Margaret Provenzano at 212.806.5753
The building lobby at 180 Maiden Lane is undergoing a renovation. Please excuse the appearance of the lobby as you enter the building. Please note, the space in which the event is being held is not under construction.

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