Money in Politics in NY: June 29th Edition


1. Though the legislative session drew to a close last week, the pressure on Albany to enact campaign finance reform has not let up.  Editorials in both Newsday and The New York Times cite the failure to pass pending reform measures as one of the legislative session’s shortcomings.  It is clear that support for enhanced disclosure rules and public financing will not fade before the start of the next session.

2. Advocates are using the break between legislative sessions to set the stage for campaign finance reform proposals to become law when New York’s legislators reconvene in Albany in January.  Two NY LEAD members, Chris Hughes and Sean Eldridge, have committed $250,000 to a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that will push for the passage of campaign finance reform, according to a report in The New York Times.  The campaign, titled Protect Our Democracy, is modeled after the successful strategy that led to marriage equality for New Yorkers and will inject itself into the upcoming state elections to put pressure on state senators that failed to support reform this past legislative session.  The Governor has already announced that he intends to work with the group.

3. As federal authorities have been slow to investigate tax-exempt advocacy groups for potential violations of tax and election laws, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman moved this week to take matters into his own hands.  New York law confers broad subpoena authority on the Attorney General, and Schneiderman is employing it to investigate whether the U.S. Chamber of Commerce illegally obtained $18 million from a supporting foundation.  Whether or not these advocacy groups will continue to operate in the gray area of the law in other areas of the country, Attorney General Schneiderman took an important step to ensure they cannot do so in New York.