Thursday, May 08, 2008

Bored at the Board of Elections

As the Times Union's Captiol Confidential writes today, NYPIRG's inquiries to the state Board of Elections about corporations violating the $5,000 contribution cap in 2006 and 2007 have gone unresolved. According to state law the max contribution is $5,000 per corporation, not per candidate.

In 2006, NYPIRG discovered overages of nearly $150,000 and more than triple the next year. Meanwhile, the board, which received notice from NYPIRG one year ago from today is “in the midst of a complete review of filings reporting 2006 political contributions,” according to a letter from this February.

Three points come to mind. First, the board needs to get to work--or else. Why aren't the committees in the state legislature with oversight power--either elections or oversight--investigating?

Second, enforcement of campaign finance laws is non-existent in this case. The board's modus operandi seems to be trust and never verify.

Finally, maybe the violations were unintentional, maybe not. But, given many of the contribution limits under state law it's no wonder why a corporation might assume that the $5,000 is per candidate, not per election. For example, each affiliated or subsidiary corporation, if a separate legal entity, has its own limit. Or, an individual may contribute up to a total of $150,000.00 in a calendar year. Party or constituted committees may receive up to $94,200 from any individual contributor in a year.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the document published by NYPIRG is wrong, in at least one case. Albany county Comptroller Mike Conners only received 125.00 from Claugh Harbour. Where they got the 54000.00 figure is beyond me. its clearly stated on his campaign filings.

Anonymous said...

The document published by NYPIRG never claimed Mike Conners received 540000.00 from Claugh Harbour, it states that Claugh Harbour doanted 5400 and Mike Connors received 125 of it.