While many voters find it hard to focus on the presidential campaign a year and
a half before the general election in 2008, some candidates in New York City are
already campaigning for contests even further in the future- the 2009 city election.
The New York City Campaign
Finance Board and the New
York State Board of Elections recently posted the latest campaign filing
data for candidates running for office, and the donors are starting to line
up behind their preferred candidates. Although only six candidates in New York
City have officially declared their candidacies for citywide office (Tony Avella,
James Brennan, Melinda Katz, Norman Siegel, Anthony Weiner and David Weprin),
many other have begun collecting money. If the mayoral race is any indicator
this is turning out to be a record setting fundraising year for candidates.
However, with new changes
to the city's campaign finance laws passed in early July, many types of contributions
that are now acceptable will soon be restricted or even prohibited. This creates
a clear advantage for the most aggressive early fundraisers. Under the new rules,
donations from limited liability corporations (LLCs) and limited liability partnerships
(LLPs) will be entirely banned and donations from those "doing business"
with the city will be severely restricted. But for now, candidates can accept
The Latest Filings
In total, all of the 2009 candidates who have filed with the campaign finance
board as of July 21 have amassed $17,855,467 and spent $3,275,609. As would
be expected, the presumed and declared candidates for mayor have amassed the
most money so far. Together, they have over $8.9 million dollars in their campaign
accounts and have spent more than $1.5 million, according to filings posted
on the Campaign Finance Board website. During the same filing period for the
2005 mayoral election, only $1.9 million dollars in contributions had been reported
and $435,567 spent.
The current money leader, Comptroller William Thompson, has already raised
more than $3 million -- approximately twice as much as former City Council Speaker
Gifford Miller, the leading 2005 mayoral candidate in contributions for the
equivalent filing period. (Democratic candidates Fernando Ferrer and Anthony
Weiner had not yet filed four years ago; Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Republican
candidate, financed his own campaign and had not yet filed either.)
Following is the breakdown of how much potential citywide and boroughwide candidates
have raised and spent for the presumed or declared office they are running for.
All data is taken from the Campaign Finance Board website and is current as
of the July 16, 2007 filing deadline, unless otherwise noted. In addition to
these presumed candidates, more than half of the current City Council members
will be term limited out of office at the end of the current term and so could
still decide to make a bid for another office. This may also account for the
eagerness of some candidates below to jump-start their fundraising for the 2009
(For candidates for other citywide offices, click here.)
Soon to be Barred
The campaign finance rules recently passed by the City Council widened the
existing ban on corporate contributions to include limited liability companies
(LLCs), limited liability partnerships (LLPs) and other forms of non-incorporated
businesses. According to the filings, all the presumed and declared candidates
for citywide and boroughwide office but one (Norman Siegel, who is running
for public advocate) took money from these entities. Bronx Borough President
Carrión raised the most from them with $403,790 reported.
To the dismay of many observers, the new campaign finance law does not ban
contributions from unions. So far, the unions have donated less than the limited
liability companies and the limited liability partnerships, but labor has still
given a sizable $117,600 to the presumed and declared candidates for citywide
and boroughwide office. John Liu reported raising the most from unions, $19,650,
and a few candidates -- Norman Siegel, Marty Markowitz, Jim Brennan and Simcha
Felder - raised nothing from them.
Following is a breakdown of the money the presumed and declared candidates
for citywide and boroughwide office have received from LLCs, LLPs and unions.
(For candidates for other citywide offices, click here.)
DOING BUSINESS AND DONATING
In what many believe to be the most far-reaching piece of the campaign finance
legislation, the new law will dramatically limit donations from those who "do
business" with New York City, including individuals and entities with city
contracts, concessions and franchises; grants valued at or greater than $100,000;
applicants seeking land use rulings; and parties to discretionary economic development
agreements. These individuals would be able to give no more than $250 to a council
candidate, $320 for a borough-wide contests and $400 to a person running for
citywide office. This represents a 90 percent reduction in the current levels,
and these contributions would no longer be eligible for any matching funds.
The city's Department of Information
Technology and Telecommunications is supposed to develop a database of these
individuals and entities. Until then, candidates are permitted to continue soliciting
contributions from those doing business with the city. As the database has yet
to be created, it is all but impossible to accurately determine which current
contributors to candidates might eventually be restricted from making donations.
The lack of the database for the time being offers just another reason that
those who begin their fundraising for 2009 early have a marked advantage over
those politicians who will be slower to make up their minds and get their
fundraising machines in gear. The spate of new regulations, along with limited
amount of time to avoid them, could bode well for establishment candidates who
have been raising funds since they won their last election and poorly for the
candidates who have yet to step forward.
Doug Israel is director of public policy and advocacy, and Jessica Lee is
an election reform intern at Citizens Union Foundation, which publishes Gotham
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