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LLC loophole

LLC loophole

  • Dan Squadron Fought the LLC Loophole and the Loophole Won

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    State Senator Daniel Squadron (photo: Daniel Squadron/Flickr)


    In early April, during the final throes of state budget negotiations, state Senator Daniel Squadron introduced a hostile amendment on the Senate floor to the Public Protection and General Government state budget bill. The amendment was intended to close the so-called “LLC loophole” in the state’s campaign finance law, which allows limited liability companies, often with hidden owners, to pour virtually unlimited money into political campaigns.

    It was hardly the first time Squadron and his

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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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  • Cuomo Appears to Give Up on Legislature Closing LLC Loophole

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    Gov. Cuomo & his budget director, Robert Mujica (photo: The Governor's Office)


    Gov. Andrew Cuomo appears to have given up on the state Legislature taking action to close the notorious LLC loophole, which allows wealthy donors to subvert campaign finance laws by creating multiple limited liability corporations that can each give more than $60,000 to a candidate’s campaign.

    According to The New York Times, Cuomo said this weekend that it would be up to the public to close the loophole through a constitutional convention.

    In

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  • End of Session Menu Previews Next ‘Big Ugly’ in Albany

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    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan June 2015 (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    Last week, the Senate came to standstill as the star of popular beer commercials came to the Capitol as a guest of Senate Republicans. Legislators of both parties fawned and snapped pictures with Jonathan Goldsmith, of Dos Equis fame. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan’s office proudly posted a picture of the two men together on Twitter; Democratic legislators quoted catchphrases of “the most interesting man in the world” on the Senate floor. While it's fairly

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  • Everyone Agrees Albany Needs Ethics Reform, Except the People Who Matter Most

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    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (l-r) (photo via The Governor's Office)


    "Top of my agenda is going to be ethics reform," said Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking on NY1 on Jan. 3. "We have done a lot in Albany, but we haven't done enough. And I'm going to push the legislature very hard to adopt more aggressive ethics legislation, more disclosure, more enforcement, etcetera."

    While the governor

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  • Democrats and Republicans Run Parallel Races in Special Elections Created by Corruption

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    Chris McGrath, Republican candidate for state Senate (photo: @McGrath4Senate) 


    Both groups are accustomed to scrapping for power and attention. With two recent federal corruption convictions, each saw an opportunity to grab more. And now, in downtown Manhattan and Nassau County Long Island, Republicans and Democrats are running parallel campaigns to seize upon a chance to flip one seat in each of the two houses of the New York State Legislature. 

    Assembly Republicans and Senate Democrats again find themselves in similar

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  • Bharara Visits Capital He Upended

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    U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (photo: @SDNYnews)


    For the last year a siege mentality has dominated the New York state capitol. And in some respect, Albany, or at least the political denizens who dwell within the capitol, does appear to be very much in the cross hairs of a conquering army headed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The main roads into town feature digital billboards flashing entreaties from the FBI urging New Yorkers to "REPORT CORRUPTION," along with a number for

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  • Good Government Groups Rate Cuomo's Ethics Package

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    Scene at Gov. Cuomo's State of the State (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    On Tuesday in Albany, the heads of three major good government groups gave their evaluation of the ethics proposals Gov. Andrew Cuomo included in his State of the State address and budget presentation last week. Susan Lerner of Common Cause, Dick Dadey of Citizens Union and Blair Horner of the New York Public

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  • Cuomo Heads Into State of the State After Big Announcements, With More to Say

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


    Governor Cuomo is going big. Decrying a state that has lost its ambition for transformative projects like the Erie Canal, the governor has spent the past week traveling the state and announcing major infrastructure, transportation, and economic development plans. Cuomo has also revealed new pieces of his $15 minimum wage campaign and criminal justice reform policies, among others, as he sets his agenda for 2016 and frames budget negotiations in Albany.

    So far, Cuomo has outlined 14

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  • Corruption, Elections Loom Over Lengthy 2016 Legislative Agenda

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    Cuomo (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


    Lawmakers returning to Albany this week to kick off the 2016 legislative session are faced with a litany of unresolved issues from last year and the spectre of the recent convictions of two former legislative leaders.

    Add to that impending elections for all 213 legislative seats, some of which will be critical for the future of state Senate control and the prospect of future indictments hinted at by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and you have a recipe for potential

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  • Good Government Groups Want Legislators to Pledge to Fight for Reform

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    The pledge (photo via @CitizensUnionNY)


    Lawmakers returned to Albany for the first day of the 2016 legislative session in the wake of two seismic corruption convictions of their former house leaders. Waiting for them were representatives of three leading good government groups, asking New York state legislators to sign a pledge to fight for good government reform.

    On the first day of session since both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos were convicted on multiple federal corruption charges, good government groups unveiled a

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  • 40 Questions for New York Politics in 2016

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    photo: William Alatriste


    Happy new year! As we jump right into 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepares for his State of the State and budget address, Mayor Bill de Blasio works to improve his public approval ratings, and the two keep on feuding. There's a lot to look for in the new year, here are about 40 political questions we're asking as the year begins - if you want to share them, answer any, or let us know one we missed, tweet @GothamGazette:

    1. How will
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  • Tenant Activists Trace Road to Corruption Trials, Eye Elusive Reform

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    Tenants sit-in at the Albany capitol


    "It's just surreal," said Jaron Benjamin a week after the conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and on the day of closing arguments in the federal corruption case against former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, knowing that those cases may have been bolstered by work he did years ago in the fight to strengthen the state's rent laws.

    In the span of less than a year Benjamin went from issuing a report exposing the connections among the real estate industry, holes in New York's campaign finance laws, and major

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  • Will Silver Conviction Be Tipping Point for 'Real' Reform?

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    Sheldon Silver in 2012 (photo via the Governor's Office)


    Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, thought to be the most powerful man in New York state government for decades, was found guilty Monday on seven counts of corruption in multiple schemes to monetize the power of his office. During the trial Silver's own defense attorney insisted that Albany itself was on trial and claimed that Silver's behavior was business as usual in Albany,

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  • Top Ten Corruption Quotes from Silver, Skelos Trials

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    Happier times: Silver, Cuomo, Skelos in 2011 (l-r) photo via Governor's Office on flickr 


    Two former leaders of their respective houses of the New York state legislature are on trial concurrently. In separate cases brought by the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, each is accused of using his office for private gain, among other charges. While the case against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon

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  • Spurred by Buffalo Billion, Reformers Look to Fix State Business Subsidies

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    Cuomo in Buffalo (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    United States Attorney Preet Bharara's attention has been drawn away from his normal stomping grounds to Buffalo, intrigued by what critics say is a shadowy network of state authorities and state-controlled non-profits handing out large business subsidies and contracts with little to no oversight.

    Watchdogs say that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, through SUNY Polytechnic head ...

  • In End of Session 'Scorecard,' Plenty for Next Year's Albany Agenda

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    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (L-R) (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    In the Democrat-controlled Assembly, it was 122-13; in the Republican-controlled Senate, 47-12. With those votes and a Governor Andrew Cuomo signature, a final policy package brought an underwhelming end to a tumultuous 2015 legislative session in New York's capital. 

    Look at ...

  • With Legislative Package, Schneiderman Challenges Lawmakers to Act on Ethics

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    AG Schneiderman at Tweed Courthouse on Wednesday (Ben Max)


    Standing on the steps of Manhattan's Tweed Courthouse, surrounded by activists, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman unveiled a legislative package Wednesday that is designed to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers who have written off negotiating ethics reform this year despite the arrest of two of the most powerful men in Albany on corruption charges.

    "I'm done vouching for incremental reforms," Schneiderman announced to cheers from the gathered crowd on the steps of

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  • Resolution Calls for Constitutional Amendment Negating Citizens United

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    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: William Alatriste)


    City Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the governmental operations committee, will introduce a resolution at Thursday’s full-body Stated Meeting calling on members of the United States Congress to commit to a constitutional amendment that would limit independent expenditures in election campaigns. It is a move aimed at reducing the “dark money” spent during political campaigns and to counteract the Supreme Court’s infamous Citizens United ruling.

  • Overwhelmingly Passed Again by Assembly, Bill to Close LLC Loophole Appears Iced by Senate

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    Sen. Daniel Squadron (photo: @DanielSquadron)


    On Tuesday the state Assembly passed a bill to close the controversial LLC loophole at the center of the federal corruption cases against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Both men - a Democrat and a Republican, respectively - were recently arrested and subsequently stepped down from their powerful leadership posts. Later in the evening Tuesday, the Senate’s version of the bill to close the loophole that allows money

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, May 11

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    New York City Hall


    What to look for this week in New York politics:

    SKELOS WATCH: The fallout from Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos' arrest on federal corruption charges continues, with Skelos facing increased pressure to step down from his leadership post. The Legislature is back in session in Albany on Monday, it seems that it is only a matter of time before Skelos takes the path indicted Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver took after his arrest:

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  • Amid Further Ethics Scandal, What Can Cuomo Do Now?

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    Gov. Cuomo (photo: @NYGovCuomo)


    Last March Gov. Andrew Cuomo killed the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption in a deal with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Now, a little more than a year later, both legislative leaders have been arrested and charged with multiple counts of federal corruption. Surrounded by scandal, it isn't immediately clear what the governor can or will do next. One thing that is sure, though, is that the worse Albany looks, the worse Cuomo looks.

    After

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  • Dean Skelos Thwarted Reform and Maintained Power, Despite the Odds

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    Dean Skelos in 2012 (photo: The Governor's Office via flickr)


    In June 2008, after serving 23 years as the State Senator from Nassau County, Dean Skelos inherited the troubled Republican conference from retiring Majority Leader Joe Bruno. It wasn't exactly the most enviable position.

    Facing an aging conference and with Democrats enjoying a huge enrollment advantage across the state, 2009 saw

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, April 27

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    • Ongoing legislative session in Albany - legislators will be in Albany Monday through Wednesday this week for session
      • major issues at play include mayoral control of schools, rent regulations, the charter school cap, the minimum wage,
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  • With Another LLC Loophole Vote Coming, Dwindling Optimism About Any Campaign Finance Reform

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    Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    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.

    Sen. Daniel Squadron, a New York City Democrat and the bill's sponsor, has maneuvered the bill to a committee vote despite major

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