Monthly Archives: July 2016

DiNapoli: New York State Pension Fund Expands List Of Corporations That Disclose Political Spending

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reports that “in 2016, the New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) reached agreements with six major corporations to voluntarily disclose their political spending, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today. The latest agreement is with J.M. Smucker Co., which has adopted the Fund’s request that it publicly report all direct and indirect corporate political spending.

“In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, investors have been left in the dark on how and where corporate dollars are spent on political causes,” DiNapoli said. “I believe shareholders have the right to know where their money is being spent. I applaud J. M. Smucker Co. for agreeing to voluntarily disclose its political spending. Transparency is vital so investors can determine whether political spending is consistent with enhancing the company’s profitability.”

A list of 34 companies is included in the linked press release.

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Bronx Assembly Member Crespo’s Petitions Challenged

Aaron Short reports in today’s NY Post that Bronx Assembly Member (and Bronx county Democratic leader) is having his petitions challenged. His opponent alleges that the petitions were riddled with fraudulent signatures:

“In one instance, the Crespo campaign handed in three pages of petitions with nearly identical lists of voters from the same Morrison Avenue address signed by different campaign workers on June 7.

“Three different witnesses collected same signatures from same tenants at 875 Morrison Ave. on the same day,” said Bronx Assembly candidate William Russell Moore, who filed the challenge.”

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Jerry Goldfeder’s Presidential Quiz

During this presidential election year, New York election attorney Jerry Goldfeder posts questions about the presidency and presidential elections.  We are posting his quiz here today for readers who might want to follow Jerry and take the quiz every day.

You  can sign up on Huffington Post to try your hand at these: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/newsletter/pollster.

Here’s today’s quiz:

Click to access JerryGoldfederDailyQuiz.pdf

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Suffolk Ballot Won’t Have Campaign Finance Measure

David M. Schwartz reports in Newsday  that Suffolk County voters will not be voting on whether to provide public financing for county legislative races and to increase legislators’ terms of office:

“Sponsor Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) said he didn’t want a pending referendum to be seen as an attempt to influence the Village of Islandia’s decision on whether to allow a video slot machine casino at the site of the Islandia Marriott Long Island.” and

 

“the unanimous committee vote to table the bill means the full Legislature won’t vote on the item Tuesday, the deadline to put the referendum on the November ballot.”

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Congressional Candidate Philip Pidot Loses Appellate Court Ruling

In Newsday, Rick Brand reports that “the state appellate division in Brooklyn rejected would-be Republican challenger Philip Pidot’s effort to force a new date for a congressional primary election against State Senate Jack Martins for retiring Rep. Steve Israel’s Third district seat.”

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New York Primaries Are Closed, Repetitive And Costly

In the Gotham Gazette, Libby Wetzler takes a look at New York’s primary system, finding that “despite not being allowed to vote in party primary elections, unaffiliated voters, along with registered Democrats and Republicans and “third party” voters, foot the bill for the administration of those elections. In New York, the cost of a primary election in 2016 is $25 million, which amounts to the fourth most expensive primary election in the country, and this cost to taxpayers is not limited to presidential primaries; New York Congressional primaries and local and state legislative primaries cost $25 million each. In 2016, New York is holding three different primary days (presidential in April, congressional in June, and state/local in September).

New York’s closed primary system and the costs associated with it – both monetary and democratic – have resulted in calls for change.”

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NY’s Closed Primaries Are Less Inclusive Than Soviet Era Politics

In the Gotham Gazette, Gennady Yussim compares New York’s closed primary voting system with his experiences voting in the Ukraine under Communist rule:

“Closed primaries are one of the most damaging aspects of a regulatory scheme that breeds civic apathy. “For members only” is the principle on which these taxpayer-funded primaries operate — as if they were club elections whose outcomes mattered to members only, and not to all American citizens. But even if you are willing to become a member, obscure deadlines and procedures, which neither party nor the government makes any meaningful effort to explain to the public, will likely put that option out of reach.”

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Tension At Board Of Elections In Wake Of IG’s Leak Report

From Casey Seiler in the Times Union:

“At Tuesday’s meeting, the board’s commissioners seemed prepared to discuss the staff’s proposed regulations on what documents are or are not confidential — tightened protocols that had been called for by the IG’s report.

Democratic Co-Chair Doug Kellner also noted that the board had taken action in response to Conklin’s leaking, though Republican Commissioner Greg Peterson objected to any public description of what that action might have been. (Neither Conklin nor Democratic board spokesman Tom Connolly was present for the meeting; one staffer mentioned that Conklin was ill.)”

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NYC Candidates Files Disclosures With Campaign Finance Board

From the NYC CFB:

Seven candidates in the 2017 citywide elections have filed required campaign finance disclosure statements with the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB).  

By midnight this Friday, July 15:

  • #NYC2017 candidates for city office are required to file disclosure statements detailing their campaigns’ financial activity from January 12, 2016 through July 11, 2016.
  • #NYC2016 candidates for City Council Districts 17 and 51’s off-year election this fall are required to file disclosure statements detailing their campaigns’ financial activity from the beginning of fundraising through July 11, 2016.
  • #NYC2016A candidates for City Council District 17’s special election last February are required to file disclosure statements detailing their campaigns’ financial activity from March 18, 2016 through July 11, 2016.                                       

The following candidates have filed disclosure statements. Updated, detailed information for these candidates can be found on the CFB website’s financial summary page and in the searchable online database.

 

Borough President

Price, Camella P (Bronx)

 

City Council

Gathers, Dwayne (#18)

Gibbs, Edward L (#08)

Grayson, Diane (#04)

Menchaca, Carlos (#38)

Santos, Boris (#41)

 

 

Undeclared

Gutierrez, Victor Hugo 

The CFB will post updates to its Twitter feed, @NYCCFB, as filings are received. You can easily search for updates with the hashtag #FilingDay.

Candidates may deliver statements to the CFB, submit filings electronically, or send the materials by mail, as long as mailed submissions are postmarked by midnight, July 15.

 

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CFB Statement On Determination Regarding The Campaign For One New York

The NYC Campaign Finance Board today voted on two items related to organizations that work in close cooperation with candidates for city office. Following the vote, the Board issued the following statement (as prepared for delivery):

“We have all seen a concerning increase in activity by organizations that face no limits on what they can raise and spend at the city and state level in recent years. The Board will not allow candidates to sidestep contribution and expenditure limits by outsourcing essential campaign activities to these coordinated organizations.  

The advisory opinion we issued today provides guidance for candidates about when cooperating with these groups may violate the Campaign Finance Act.

We also issued a determination resolving the complaint by Common Cause New York as well as the Board’s own investigation regarding the activities of the Campaign for One New York.

To be clear, we are not talking today about independent expenditure committees. New York City’s disclosure requirements for independent expenditures are among the most comprehensive anywhere. Today we are talking about groups that are not independent of the candidates they support. In this case, the Campaign for One New York is very clearly not independent of Mr. de Blasio.

The organization was established by the mayor to support and promote his policy agenda. It is run by the mayor’s closest advisors and staffed by personnel and consultants that ran his campaign in 2013.

The issue for this Board was to decide whether expenditures of the Campaign for One New York were made in connection with Mr. de Blasio’s 2017 re-election campaign.

Under the name UPKNYC, the entity now known as the Campaign for One New York paid for public communications to support the administration’s effort to establish universal pre-kindergarten, a proposal that required action by the state legislature in 2014. CFB staff analysis showed that the organization did not make expenditures for public communications after the pre-K campaign concluded in mid-2014.

Based on this analysis, the Board concludes that the public communications and related spending that occurred in 2014 were not related to the 2017 re-election campaign. This conclusion aligns with the guidance provided in the advisory opinion, which establishes factors for when such spending would be considered an in-kind contribution to a campaign.

One of the factors the Board will consider is whether the timing of such expenditures coincide with the candidate’s campaign. Expenditures after January 1 of an election year will be presumed to be related to a candidate’s campaign, while expenditures made before that date will generally not be considered as related to the candidate’s campaign unless substantial other factors are present.

However, since the beginning of 2015, the Campaign for One New York has raised and spent a considerable amount. Much of that spending has been directed to vendors that ran the 2013 campaign and have already received payments from the 2017 campaign.

To the extent that tangible goods, services, or work product from the Campaign for One New York may be made available to the 2017 campaign, the Board does not consider this matter closed. The Board conducts audit reviews of all campaigns, both before and after the election, to ensure compliance with the law. As a part of that process, the Board will continue to monitor whether goods and services provided to and paid for by the Campaign for One New York end up benefiting the 2017 campaign.

The fundraising conducted by the Campaign for One New York plainly raises serious policy and perception issues and illuminates the ways in which the jurisdiction of the Act is limited. More than 95 percent of the funds it received would have been prohibited under the laws that apply to candidates for office—including contributions from corporations, limited liability companies, and people doing business with the city. Most contributions exceeded the limit applicable to candidates, and at least a dozen were as large as $100,000.

New York City’s campaign finance system allows candidates to run for office without relying on big contributions from special interests. The system depends on reasonable contribution limits that reduce the appearance that influence can be bought or sold through campaign contributions. It defies common sense that limits that work so well during the campaign should be set aside once the candidate has assumed elected office.

The Board calls on the Council to pass legislation to close this loophole and amend the law to more closely regulate fundraising by elected officials and their agents for non-profit organizations, especially 5-01(c)(4) entities. In addition to placing clear limits on fundraising solicitations, any reform should include comprehensive public disclosure, and audits to ensure the disclosure is complete and accurate. The financial reporting we have seen to date does not meet this standard. The Campaign for One New York does not make its contributions or expenditures available for public viewing online. Press reports have identified at least one contributor who was left off of those reports.

The city’s landmark campaign finance program has thrived for nearly 30 years because it has been constantly renewed and fortified to meet the challenges of an evolving political environment.  This Council has an opportunity to make its own mark to strengthen and improve ethical standards in New York City once again.”

 

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