"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Giving The Rich Even More Influence”: More Money Coming To An Election Near You

After the 2010 Citizens United ruling, which allowed corporations and unions to overwhelm federal elections with unlimited “independent” expenditures, the courts began overturning reasonable state-specific campaign finance rules — in Montana, for instance. Now it is New York’s turn.

A federal appeals court panel on Thursday said New York State’s long standing $150,000 cap on contributions to independent political groups was probably unconstitutional. The ruling came less than two weeks before New York City’s mayoral election on Nov.5. It might be too late for wealthy conservative groups to gin up support for Republican Joe Lhota in his uphill battle against Democrat Bill de Blasio. But the ruling could have a significant impact on elections starting next year.

New York State already has extremely lax campaign financing laws which allow unlimited donations to political parties for “housekeeping” purposes. Other contribution limits are scandalously high and some crafty donors have even found a way around those by creating multiple limited liability corporations that can each give the maximum to a candidate. For example, one real estate developer, Leonard Litwin, has used this dodge to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaigns.

New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will have to decide whether to appeal the decision. But he and others have suggested that there are possible alternatives.

He has argued that if the courts keep getting rid of the ceilings on contributions, one good option for New York State would be to raise the floor. By that he means that Albany’s politicians should create a public campaign financing system much like the one in New York City

For more almost 25 years, New York City has enjoyed the best and fairest campaign financing operation in the country. Candidates receive $6 in public funds for every $1 in contributions up to $175 per person. That matching system means more people can afford to run for office. Donors who write small checks know they can make a bigger difference.  And voters have more choices, which might be the reason too many state legislators really oppose this way forward.

States that suddenly find big money flooding into their local elections could also fight back by demanding to know who’s writing those checks.

Shaun McCutcheon, who is at the center of a Supreme Court case challenging limits on campaign donations, issued a statement Thursday that said he is “very pleased that another court has decided to rule in favor of free speech.”

Actually it ruled in favor of giving the rich more influence than they already have over who wins public elections.


By: Eleanor Randolph, Editors Blog, The New York Times, October 25, 2013

October 26, 2013 - Posted by | Campaign Financing, Citizens United | , , , , , ,

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