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Campaign Finance Reform

Campaign Finance Reform

  • Next Steps and Recent Precedents for De Blasio’s Charter Revision Commission

    Mayor de Blasio State of the City

    Mayor de Blasio (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)


    Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in his State of the City speech that he would convene a commission to consider changes to the city charter, New York City’s seminal governing document. De Blasio said the charter revision commission would undertake the significant task of reducing the impact of “big money” on local elections and to engage voters in a democracy that has suffered from their apathy. The mayor is hoping the commission members, whom he has yet to name, will

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  • Campaign Finance Board Begins Formal Review of 2017 Election Cycle

    Mayor de Blasio 2017 election voting

    (photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)


    The New York Campaign Finance Board (CFB) held a hearing Monday morning to field testimony on the 2017 New York City election cycle from candidates, operatives, and advocates. The hearing, part of a quadrennial post-election report that must be submitted before September 1 the year after the election, came on the heels of final campaign finance filing of the 2017 cycle. The CFB

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  • The Next Step to Reform District Attorney Campaign Finance

    Cy Vance District Attorney

    Four NYC DAs  (photo: @ManhattanDA)


    For the past four months, the people of Manhattan have grappled with accusations of their District Attorney cultivating a pay-to-play culture in which the rich and powerful skate by serious criminal charges -- if their lawyers contribute sizable donations to DA Vance’s campaign. In a public display of penance for allowing the appearance of corruption to permeate, Vance requested The Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School to investigate ways to better insulate our elected prosecutors

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  • Requested by Vance Amid Controversy, Report Suggests Campaign Finance Reforms for District Attorneys

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    Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance (photo: Manhattan DA facebook)


    District attorneys should separate themselves from fundraising efforts and implement tighter vetting procedures for donors to reduce the appearance of bias, says a new report by the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity (CAPI) at Columbia Law School.

    The recommendations were requested by Manhattan District Attorney Cy

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  • Four Years Later, 2014 State Campaign Finance Pilot All But Forgotten

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    Gov. Cuomo unveils an ethics agenda (photo: The Governor's Office)


    With the four statewide positions up for election again this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ill-fated 2014 public campaign financing experiment, in which candidates for state comptroller were eligible to test-run a pilot program, appears all but forgotten.

    New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, like Cuomo a Democrat running for another four-year term, has long been a proponent of a comprehensive program to match certain private campaign donations with public dollars, as a way

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  • Cuomo's 2018 State of the State 'Reform' Agenda Largely Repeats Past Proposals

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    Gov. Cuomo at his 2018 State of the State (photo: Philip Kamrass/Governor's Office)


    During his 2018 State of the State speech on Wednesday in Albany, Governor Andrew Cuomo spent little time on government ethics reform, but did address at somewhat greater length his proposals to increase access to the ballot box and change state campaign finance law.

    In sum, the “reform” portion of Cuomo’s remarks were relatively brief, though the governor did expand more on his proposals to change voting, campaign financing,

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  • ‘Democracy Vouchers’ May Come to New York City

    Ben Kallos campaign finance reform

    City Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    As he ran for mayor this year, former City Council Member Sal Albanese typically didn’t go more than five minutes without mentioning his call to bring additional campaign finance reform to New York City. Despite the fact that the city already has a heralded public-matching system that encourages small donation fundraising, Albanese pointed to the “democracy voucher” program instituted in Seattle, which is even more radical in its efforts to lower individual donation

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  • Politics, Money, and the ‘Spirit of the Law:’ Why New York Needs a Constitutional Convention

    vote for a constitutional convention

    (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)


    The federal corruption trial of Norman Seabrook, former head of the correction officers’ union, has introduced new evidence of the contaminating role money plays in politics throughout the state. Jona Rechnitz, a wealthy real estate developer with a taste for power, became a star witness in the case after he got caught in the middle of an alleged deal that allowed Seabrook to get a kickback for investing the union’s pension funds in a risky hedge fund. Rechnitz had also been

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  • One-House Budgets Show Little Indication Ethics, Voting & Campaign Finance Reforms Will Advance in Albany

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    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    In one-house budgets passed this week, the state Legislature showed little evidence that new government ethics, voting, and campaign finance reform measures will be passed in Albany any time soon. This, despite persistent issues with public corruption, antiquated election laws, and the ongoing ability for wealthy interests to donate virtually unlimited sums to politicians.

    Through his January State of the State tour, 2017 policy book, and executive budget, Governor

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  • Business Contributions and Campaign Finance in New York: Deep Historical Roots

    Cuomo casino ribbon cutting

    (photo: The Governor's Office on Flickr)


    Business money and New York politics
    The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics, an oversight panel, recently proposed legislation to increase the requirements for lobbyists to disclose their political fundraising. The recommendation would help show the ways in those seeking to influence policy by day are raising money for policy-makers by night.

    Blair Horner, legislative director for the New York Public Interest Group, one of several

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  • Campaign Finance Board Fines De Blasio, Others for 2013 Campaign Violations

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    Mayor de Blasio accepts a union endorsement for re-election (photo: Ben Max)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2013 campaign is being fined $47,778 by the Campaign Finance Board for ten separate violations, including improper post-election spending. Additionally, the board determined at its Thursday hearing, of the $3,994,496 in public matching funds de Blasio’s 2013 campaign received, it must repay $485.02.

    The single largest fine to de Blasio’s campaign, $21,159, is for making impermissible post-election expenditures. ...

  • City Council Rushes Through Campaign Finance Bills

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    City Council chambers (photo: Sofie Hecht/Gotham Gazette)


    The City Council is rushing through a package of bills to reform the city’s campaign finance system. About a dozen bills driven by Council members’ frustrations with the Campaign Finance Board and its rigorous reporting system are being moved through the Council at an almost unseen pace, raising eyebrows.

    There are actually two packages of bills that will be passed through the Council this week: one that has been sitting idle for months after a hearing, which will go through the

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  • 22 Campaign Finance Bills to Move Through City Council 'Soon,' Speaker Says

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    Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: @NYCCouncil)


    Within the next two months, the City Council is expected to vote on a large legislative package that would alter the city’s campaign finance system in a variety of ways and regulate donations to political nonprofits, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said this week. Some of the proposals and the timing of their likely passage have raised concerns, though, that the Council is weakening the city’s model campaign finance system, pushing some reforms through after too long a wait and rushing other, newer bills through just in time for the next

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  • City Council Hears Legislative Package on Conflicts of Interest and Campaign Finance

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    Henry Berger testifying (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    The City Council heard testimony Monday on a broad package of bills that would prevent conflicts of interest between elected officials and political nonprofits, limit the electoral influence of those who do business with the city, and make it easier for first-time candidates to navigate the city’s campaign finance system.

    The Council’s Committee on Standards and Ethics heard 14 bills on Monday in what was the current Council’s first hearing of the committee focused on legislation. Of the 14, the headlining bill,

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  • City Council Drafting Bills to Regulate Political Nonprofits Like Campaign for One New York

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    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: John McCarten for the City Council)


    At least three City Council members have made requests to the Council’s bill drafting unit to formulate legislation that would regulate political participation by and with “social welfare” nonprofit organizations. These are political advocacy, or lobbying, groups, which have been the subject of intense scrutiny in New York City of late due to the Campaign

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  • With No Clear Next Election, Council Speaker Raises and Spends

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    Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alatriste)


    As the calendar hurtles toward 2017, one of the big New York City political questions is what the future holds for Melissa Mark-Viverito, the speaker of the City Council. Mark-Viverito will be term-limited out of office at the end of next year and while she has indicated that she may continue to be active in city politics, there is no clear next step for her, especially in terms of elected office.

    Mark-Viverito, a Democrat, told ...

  • For 2017 Effect, Time Running Out for Campaign Finance Bills in Limbo

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    above: Melissa Mark-Viverito; below: Ben Kallos (photos by William Alatriste)


    New York City’s campaign finance system, particularly its public matching funds program, is considered a national model, and it stays that way by being regularly updated and modernized. The Campaign Finance Board issues reports following each election analyzing ways to plug holes in the system and bolster the already-robust provisions of the relevant law.

    But, the next city election cycle, in 2017, may come and go without any

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  • For Cuomo, Passing Ethics Bill was Urgent, Signing It is Not

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    Gov. Cuomo during his 2016 State of the State (via The Governor's Office)


    After nearly two months, Governor Andrew Cuomo requested on Friday that the Legislature send him an ethics reform package he personally designed and pushed the Legislature to pass in June with the assistance of a message of necessity he issued to speed the process. The governor now has 10 days to sign it, which he is expected to do.

    Announced by Cuomo late in the legislative session, the actual bill was then a mystery for days before being

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  • Cuomo Cabinet Boat Trip Highlights Campaign Finance Law Concerns

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    Lt. Gov. Hochul, left, and Gov. Cuomo, right, on the Hudson (@NYGovCuomo)


    On Monday, the highest ranking members of the Cuomo administration boarded a boat in the city of Hudson in Columbia County and embarked for New York City. The trip, according to Cuomo administration officials, was strictly work-related. There was a cabinet meeting; strategy sessions for the Governor’s 2017 State of the State address, and inspections of infrastructure projects like the “New New York Bridge,” which is replacing the Tappan Zee.

    It was

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  • In Extended Session, Lawmakers Vote Through Variety of Bills with Little Public Review

    capitol building rally

    The Capitol Building (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin, Governor's Office)


    Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders finished protracted and messy end-of-session negotiations on Friday night -- one day after the scheduled end of legislative session -- not with the traditional celebratory press conference, but with a series of press releases. Sent to reporters as bills were still being negotiated, printed, and voted upon Friday night, Cuomo’s public schedule for Saturday put him in the New York City area with no events.

    A press release

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  • New York Becomes 17th State to Call for Constitutional Overturn of Citizens United

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    Sen. Squadron and "Demand Democracy" ralliers (photo: @DanielSquadron)


    Amid increasing calls for New York to pass bold government ethics reform and minimize the role of money in elections, a bipartisan majority of state lawmakers has taken a symbolic but somewhat significant step in calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution overturning the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United case.

    In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court

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  • Cuomo Launches End-of-Session Addition to Stagnant Ethics Agenda

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    Gov. Cuomo on Wednesday (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin, Governor's Office)


    Last year, with ten days remaining in legislative session and confronted with a major ethics reform proposal from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters, "Let me make this as a blanket statement: It is late in the day for anything.”

    On Wednesday, with only four days remaining of this

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  • Paying the Overhead for Democracy in New York

    voting booths elections campaign finance

    (photo by Peter Duton)


    My dad Ruby Benjamin worked as a professional basketball player, a New York City cop, a hosiery salesman and, for much of the second half of his life, the owner of a liquor store on West 31 Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue. He loved his first two jobs, but liked the last one the best (the sales job was another story entirely.) Twelve hours a day, six days a week in the store was grueling. “But nobody tells me what to do, Jerry,”

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  • Hearing Advances Reforms to City Campaign Finance System

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    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: William Alatriste)


    As Mayor Bill de Blasio is mired in controversy over his fundraising activities and proximity to lobbyists, the City Council is moving on bills to reduce the possibility of ‘pay-to-play’ campaign financing and make significant tweaks to strengthen an already-robust public-matching system.

    The Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations held a hearing on Monday to examine ...

  • Campaign Finance Reform Bills To Be Heard

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    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: William Alatriste)


    The chair of the City Council’s governmental operations committee, Council Member Ben Kallos, is hopeful that a package of eight campaign finance reform bills, introduced November 10, will move through quickly after they are heard for the first time next month.

    The legislative package, scheduled for a hearing May 2, is aimed at making improvements to

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