Friday, August 04, 2006

Campaign Finance Limits? What Limits?

The New York Times leads with a story today that shows how wealthy donors circumvent New York's already ridiculously high $50,100 single donor limits. By setting up limited liability corporations, these donors give candidates far more than this amount. Key graph:

In fact, this year’s statewide political campaigns are awash with donations from L.L.C.’s, which are business entities that can be set up for as little as a couple of hundred dollars and provide special tax benefits and limits on financial liability. Six of the eight major-party candidates for governor or attorney general have taken donations from individuals who have contributed the maximum and then donated further through L.L.C.’s.

The amazing thing about this phenomenon is that the current donation limits in place in New York are among the weakest in the nation. The Times notes:

New York’s limit of $50,100 per candidate is already the highest among the 37 states that have a donation limit and far above the $2,100 limit for federal campaigns, according to a recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law. While corporations have a donation limit of $5,000, L.L.C.’s have the same limit as individuals in New York State.

In tightening restrictions on these donations, regulators at both the federal level and in New York City have either banned such giving through L.L.C.’s donations or factored them in with individual donation limits.

Needless to say, a number of major candidates decry the loophole, but most have accepted such donations.

Categories: General, Campaign Finance

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