Given the recent publicity about the large amounts of cash transferred from real estate interests to New York campaign accounts, it should surprise no one that Forest City Ratner (developer of the controversial "Atlantic Yards" project in Brooklyn) has recently given a whole lot of money to the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee.
But $58,420? Doesn't this run afoul of state limits on campagin contributions from corporations? No, it does not. As we noted in our report on New York's "paper thin" campaign finance laws, New York's contribution limits are riddled with exceptions. Corporations in New York may give no more than $5,000 to a candidate -- though an unlimited number of subsidiaries can each give $5,000 as well. And corporations are not limited by any amount for what they can give to political parties' "housekeeping accounts." So $58,420 in so-called "soft money" is just fine.
We're sure this very large check has nothing to do with the ongoing legal and political battles surrounding Atlantic Yards. And we're sure that this large check will not influence any politicians should they need to consider controversies around Atlantic Yards in the coming months and years. All the same, wouldn't it be nice if we had real limits on corporate campaign contributions, so that we could avoid even the appearance of buying influence?