The Business Council of New York State, Inc. strongly opposes this Executive Budget proposal that would prohibit corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) from making any direct campaign expenditures. Instead, it would limit corporations and LLCs – and ONLY corporations and LLCs – to making contributions to independent expenditure committees and on direct independent expenditures.
Note that the Executive Budget’s proposal to extend to LLCs the $5,000 annual aggregate cap on corporate political contributions has already been adopted and signed into law (see Chapter 4, Laws of 2019).
The only rationale offered for this proposal in the Article VII bill memo is that it “. . . reduces the influence of corporate money in politics.”
Interestingly, the Executive Budget makes no similar proposal prohibiting direct political contributions by entities organized under different provisions of federal or state law.
In doing so, this represents yet another one-sided “reform” measure designed to limit private sector businesses’ ability to engage in political advocacy in New York State, resulting in an even more uneven playing field among various categories of interest groups.
As example, New York State is already unique in its prohibition on allowing payroll withholdings to generate contributions to employee PACs – a prohibition first adopted in 2012 and extended in 2015 and 2018 as part of broader legislation governing wage withholdings. In our review, this practice is explicitly allowed for federal PACs, in New York’s neighboring states (Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey) and in the four largest states by population, other than New York (California, Texas, Illinois, Florida). On the other hand, New York’s wage withholding law explicitly allows for withholdings to pay union dues.
The current proposal would also significantly limit engagement by small and mid-sized businesses that are less likely or able to create a separate PAC that is allowed to make hard dollar contributions.
We understand that the legislature is considering broad-based campaign finance reform, including a new public campaign financing program and further limits on campaign contributions to candidates that would apply equally to all categories of contributors.
We support campaign finance reforms that are broad-based in scope, and result in a level playing field for all interested parties. However, we oppose legislation such as this that imposes severe limitations only on specific, targeted categories of political contributors.
For these reasons, The Business Council opposes adoption of S.1510-A / A.2010-A Article VII, Part F.