We learn today that nobody associated with the Governor leaked information on the Board Of Elections report over 2014 campaign contributions. Instead, Chris Bragg reports in the Times Union that the report was leaked by a Republican Board Of Elections staff member:
“At least in this instance, it wasn’t Gov. Andrew Cuomo behind a leak damaging New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The Republican spokesman of the New York State Board of Elections was behind the recent leak of a report that was sharply critical of de Blasio’s 2014 tactics in trying to win Democratic control of the state Senate.
That’s according to a report released today by the Office of Inspector General, which said that the spokesman, John Conklin, had admitted leaking the confidential Board of Elections report that became the subject of an explosive April 22 article by the New York Daily News’ Ken Lovett.
The January report of the Board’s enforcement unit had found “willful and flagrant” violations “warranting prosecution” stemming from the efforts of de Blasio”s team in 2014. Those efforts may have worked around campaign contribution limits by funneling money through various obscure upstate county committees that can take six-figure donations and then to Democratic Senate candidates that could take unlimited sums from party committees.”
The State Board Of Elections has sent a memorandum to all county election boards describing options that counties have when administering a primary with a very small number of enrolled voters to ensure that the secrecy of each ballot is preserved.
You can read the memo here: NYSBOE_Memo on Preserving Voter Privacy in Small Primaries
A group of Long Island state legislators and activists held a press conference on Friday to call for action to close the LLC loophole before the legislature adjourns next month. In Newsday’s Spin Cycle, Paul LaRocco reports:
“For too long, the playing field has been titled in favor of wealthy campaign donors and big money interests in Albany, while the voices of voters have been drowned out, or shut out, entirely,” said Emily Abbott, the Working Families Party’s Long Island political director. “It’s time for that to change.”
Currently, state law allows companies to exceed the $5,000 corporate limit by creating an unlimited amount of limited liability companies to funnel donations. Some large firms have used dozens of different LLCs to contribute millions of dollars in total donations in recent years.
Cuomo, whose own campaign has received millions of dollars in contributions from LLCs, proposed treating the entities as “traditional corporations” and capping their contributions at $5,000 annually. The Democrat-led Assembly supports the proposal.”
Senate Republicans counter, continuing:
” that the focus on LLCs ignores the fact that large labor unions and other political action committees are still able to skirt campaign finance limits for individual candidates by giving their money to political party committees. The party committees can transfer unlimited amounts of money funds to specific candidates.
“A proposal to close the LLC loophole is a red herring that fails to fundamentally address the root cause of the problems that exist within our campaign finance system, mostly notably a lack of enforcement, a lack of transparency, and a lack of full and honest disclosure,” Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said this week when Cuomo introduced his bills.”
Nick Reisman reports that “the Monroe County Democratic County Committee has received a subpoena from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office in the investigation surrounding Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to boost Senate Democrats in 2014.
“The Monroe County Democratic Committee has received a subpoena from Manhattan District Attorney’s Office seeking records related to certain campaign contributions,” said the committee’s counsel, Chris Thomas. “MCDC has already provided documents in response and will continue to fully cooperate with that inquiry.”
De Blasio is facing multiple investigations into his political fundraising, including an effort he backed on behalf of Democratic Senate candidates two years ago. Scrutiny is being placed on the method of fundraising used by de Blasio’s political allies in which county committees received large contributions, with money then being transferred to individual candidate campaigns.
Investigators are probing whether the effort was part of a deliberate attempt to circumvent campaign finance contribution limits.”
Today’s Daily News editorial page urges action on the Governor’s proposal to close the LLC campaign finance loophole as “the governor’s eight bills give them ability to pick and choose targets.
A comprehensive bill covers all state campaigns; seven others discretely cover just about all possible iterations of campaigns for New York public office: the Legislature, Senate, Assembly, the attorney general, the controller — all with the governor included in the provisions.
At the least, Flanagan and Heastie should give Cuomo his wish, shut the loophole for gubernatorial races, and bolster confidence that governors are untainted by limitless cash. Dare they. And dare they face the truth that they’ve got nothing on the world’s oldest profession.”
Why does New York have so many primary and elections dates this year? In Politico NY, Bill Mahoney takes a look:
“the state gives residents plenty of opportunities to take time out of their busy days to wait in long lines to cast their ballots. Residents of Albany County, for example, will have the opportunity to cast ballots on six occasions this year: In February, they voted on a school construction funding referendum, in April they cast ballots in the state’s presidential primary, in May there’s the vote for the school budget, in June there will be congressional primaries, in September they’ll choose candidates in primaries for state and local offices and, finally, in November they’ll vote in the general election.
This surfeit of elections may delight stalwart citizens who enjoy exercising their franchise, but it’s not without drawbacks. Most estimates peg the cost to counties of each extra statewide primary at somewhere between $25 million and $50 million.
And it’s likely that each additional election lowers turnout, even among the hardiest voters.
According to data maintained by the United States Election Project, the turnout of less than 20 percent for April’s presidential primary was the second lowest among states with primaries this year. This wasn’t a one-time blemish, either: The state Bar Association has concluded that New York ranks 47th in turnout. To illustrate the point, only about 3 percent of Democrats showed up for Nassau County’s 2015 district attorney election.”
With a tip of the hat to NY Politico, here’s a link to a list of New York’s Democratic Convention delegates