Thursday, February 07, 2008

New Brennan Center Research Looks at NYS Campaign Finance Through the Lens of NYC

The inaugural issue of the Albany Government Law Review features an article by the Brennan Center's Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, who compares New York State's dismal campaign finance system to that of New York City.

Torres-Spelliscy and former legal intern Ari Weisbard catalogued the embarrassingly bad aspects of New York State's law:
  • Aggregate contribution limits for individuals are sky-high--more than 3 times the median annual income for New York households;
  • Unlike nearly half the states, New York does not ban corporate contributions and also allows donations from affiliates and subsidiaries, multiplying a corporation's influence;
  • Party "housekeeping accounts," ostensibly formed to pay for headquarters and staff, may accept unlimited donations;
  • Loose rules on the use of campaign contributions permit candidates and officials to spend money on questionable items;
  • State contractors donating to campaigns can create "pay-to-play" conflicts; and
  • Penalties for those who break the law are woefully inadequate.
For those of you who don't have time to read the whole law review article, here is an overview of the research.

The Brennan Center is pushing for comprehensive campaign finance reform in New York State with the ultimate goal of implementing a system of public financing.

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