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Wednesday
Nov282018

POLITICS (National, State/ New York): New York, campaign finance reform?: "N.Y. Democrats Vowed to Get Big Money Out of Politics. Will Big Money Interfere?" ....

***New York, campaign finance reform?

* New York Times (Vivian Wang):  "N.Y. Democrats Vowed to Get Big Money Out of Politics. Will Big Money Interfere?" - From the NYT:

In the months before the Nov. 6 elections, New York’s Senate Democrats received $25,000 from a mysterious group of five donors, with names like 2332 7 Ave L.L.C., 207 Silver Lane L.L.C. and 228 W 132 L.L.C. The donors shared one address, at 223 West 138th Street in Manhattan — home to a real estate management firm with properties across Harlem and the rest of the city. Two more donors from the same address gave $20,000 to another Democrat: Letitia James, who was just elected New York attorney general.

The donations were made possible by a loophole in New York’s campaign finance law that, for more than 20 years, has allowed corporations to create limited liability companies for the sole purpose of giving virtually unlimited amounts of money to candidates. The law treats limited liability companies as people, allowing each to donate up to $65,100 to every statewide candidate per election cycle — far more than the $5,000 aggregate contribution limit for corporations. Firms can create multiple L.L.C.s, effectively erasing any maximum.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, has been by far the greatest beneficiary of the state loophole in recent years, raising more than $17.5 million from L.L.C.s since taking office in 2011. The Senate Republicans’ campaign committee raised more than $3.4 million from L.L.C.s in that time, compared with $1 million for the Democrats.

The loophole’s existence is one reason critics call New York’s campaign finance laws among the weakest in the nation. The real estate industry in particular has made ample use of it. And Democrats, in their successful bid to recapture the State Senate for the first time in a decade, campaigned on a promise to close it. But even as they vowed to muzzle big money’s influence, they benefited from the same L.L.C. donations they were railing against . . . . . . . .

The corporations’ sudden generosity, and Democrats’ acceptance of it, has raised questions about whether lawmakers will make good on their promise to overhaul New York’s much-maligned campaign finance system, or whether — now that they have consolidated control of Albany’s levers of power — they might prefer to bask in its perks ...................