Overview of IDC Campaign Finance Reform Proposal
April 15, 2013
Contact: Ken Pokalsky
The following is a summary of the upcoming IDC campaign finance reform package, based on press reports. As of this morning, the legislation has yet to be introduced.
- Lowering contribution limits to $2,600 for all candidates running for State Office including the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor, the Comptroller, the Attorney General, the State Senate and the State Assembly. This limit applies to the combined total of contributions made for a primary and a general election.
- Banning corporate campaign contributions entirely. [KP Note: federal law prohibits contributions from “the treasuries of corporations, labor organizations and national banks;” additionally, national banks and federally chartered corporations may not make contributions in connection with any election, including state and local election.]
- Eliminating transfers between state parties and individual political committees.
- Capping contributions to state and county party committees at $10,000 per donor.
- Repealing the so-called Wilson-Pakula provision from State Election Law. [KP Note: Adopted in 1947, this act authorizes a candidate not registered with a specific party to run as that party’s candidate in a given election.]
- Eliminating “housekeeping” or “soft money” accounts, which are currently subject to no contributions limits; campaign related costs such as campaign overhead, office space, and utilities would be required to be financed directly from campaign accounts, which are subject to strict contribution limits.
- Imposing increased disclosure requirements of independent expenditures.
This proposal also provides all eligible candidates with an opportunity to participate in a public campaign finance system for all candidates for statewide office and for candidates for the State Senate and the State Assembly. Elements of the IDC’s public campaign finance program will include:
- A six to one match for each $250 raised from an individual contributor. The match would only be allowed for contributions from individuals. Contributions donated to the candidate from political committees, PACs or other entities would not be matched.
- Imposes a minimum threshold for contributions that must be raised by a primary or general election candidate to qualify for the 6-1 public match.
- Governor: Must raise $650,000 in matchable contributions from at least 6,500 individual donors.
- Lieutenant Governor (primary only), Comptroller, AG: Must raise $200,000 in matchable contributions from at least 2,000 individual donors.
- State Senate: Must raise $20,000 in matchable contributions from at least 200 individual donors, including at least $12,500 from at least 125 donors residing in the state senate district
- Assembly: Must collect at least $10,000 in matchable contributions from at least 100 individual donors, including at least $5,000 from at least 50 residents of the Assembly district.
- Limits on the amount of public funds expended for each candidate are as follows:
- Governor: $5.5 million for primary; $8.25 general/special election
- Lt. Governor, Attorney General and State Comptroller: $2.75 million for primary; $4.125 for general/special election
- State Senate: $825,000 for primary; $825,000 for general/special election
- Assembly: $412,500 for primary; $412,500 for general/special election.
- Required disclosure of bundlers and intermediaries in the gathering of campaign contributions.
- The creation of a “doing business” database similar to that of New York City. Doing business contribution limits for individuals will be set at $260.00 dollars (10% of the individual contribution limit). These “doing business” contribution limits are for the primary and general elections combined. These “doing business” contributions are not eligible for public matching funds.
- Matching funds would be derived from a 10% surcharge on State litigation, a campaign finance tax check off, and surplus monies from the unclaimed property fund.
- Civil penalties of up to $5,000 for failure to make required campaign finance filings, and up to $10,000 for any person or authorized committee knowingly and intentionally violating other public financing provisions.
- Criminal prosecutions by the State Attorney General. Penalties may include repayment of all matching funds received.
- Enforcement of these provisions will be administered by a newly created Campaign Finance Board. This will be a new unit within the State Board of Elections charged with the oversight and enforcement under the new IDC public financing proposal. This NYS CFB will be fully staffed in order to effectively oversee and enforce these new provisions as well as those provisions which do not apply to participation in public financing.
- These proposed changes to the current campaign finance system would take effect immediately. Candidates for State Comptroller would be eligible to participate in the public financing system in 2014, state legislative candidates in 2014 and all statewide candidate in 2018.