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NYPIRG Campaign Funds

NYPIRG Campaign Funds

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Published by The Post-Standard
Report on flaws in campaign finance reporting in New York state.
Report on flaws in campaign finance reporting in New York state.

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Published by: The Post-Standard on Aug 22, 2012
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09/14/2013

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 For immediate release: For more information:
August 22, 2012 Bill Mahoney (518) 817-3738
 
NYPIRG’S CLOSER LOOK:
 CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS ROUTINELY FLOUTED;OVER $30 MILLION IN CANDIDATE FUNDS MISSING IN ACTION
Responses to two FOIL requests made by NYPIRG over the past year reveal that since 2007 the onlyenforcement actions taken by the New York State Board of Elections for violations of the campaignfinance laws have been modest fines levied on committees that filed their disclosure reports late. Onthe surface these documents seem to indicate that the Maytag Repairman could handle enforcementduties for the Board:
New York’s campaign finance system function
s so smoothly that there are fewviolators and there is no need for any corrective measures.Unfortunately, a closer look makes it clear that this is not the case. Every year, hundreds of donors givemore money than is allowed by state law that has highest limits of any state capping donation size;scores of candidates fail to disclose large contributions received in the run-up to Election Day; thousandsof filings obfuscate the identity of donors or the purpose of expenditures through the inclusion of incomplete or incorrect information; and dozens of incumbent lawmakers spend campaign funds forwhat reasonable people would unanimously agree are non-campaign reasons.Even an examination of committees that file late - the one violation for which the Board has played anactive enforcement role - reveals that there is significant room for improvement. The fines the Boardissues for this type of violation, usually between $100 and $1,000, clearly are not enough to detercandidates who appear to have no interest in filing on time or, in some cases, ever.In the July 2012 filing period, 3,639 committees reporting $217,256,855.23 in the bank filed disclosurereports. As of August 13, a full month after the filing deadline, 2,328 active committees with$31,181,363.85 in the bank based on previous filings had still not disclosed any transactions.These non-filing committees fall into two categories. The first includes candidates who have simply notfiled, often for several years. 622 committees with $12,151,845.41 in the bank belong to this category.
The second contains candidates who have filed recently, but have filed nothing but “no activity reports”
for the past few reporting periods. The Board authorizes the use of these reports
only when acommittee has had no transactions over the course of a six month period 
.
1
Many of the committees that
1
Election Law §14-108 makes clear that candidate committees must report regularly to the State Board of 
elections: “. . . the
board shall provide that every political committee which has filed a statement of treasurerand depository shall make at least one filing every six months between the time such statement of treasurer anddepository is filed and the time such commit
tee goes out of business.” The Board’s handbook for filers makes
 
have filed
no-activity reports
have bank accounts totaling tens of thousands of dollars or more; it isunlikely that each of them truly have not received as much as a dime in interest or paid a dollar in bankfees over the course of several years. Further, since the Board never appears to conduct audits of filers,it is impossible to know if any of these candidates and/or their treasurers simply pocketed theremainder of their funds after losing an election.The two charts below make clear that the Board drops the ball even when it comes to the oneenforcement action they purportedly engage in. Much of the blame is likely due to
the Board’s
inherently partisan structure, while some surely can be laid on the lack of funding they have received inrecent budget cycles. That said, we can find no record of the Board asking for additional resources orauthority for enforcement or auditing. In either case, these lists make it even clearer than before that
removing enforcement and administration of the campaign finance law from the Board’s partisan grip is
an absolutely critical component of any potential reform packages.
Notable committees that have not recently filed any reports
The following charts focus on candidates and party committees, but include a few notable PACs.
All of these committees have been checked at least twice since Monday, August 13
th
. It is possiblethat some have filed in the last few days and their appearance on this chart is dated. Nevertheless,
each of these filers’ July reports
is over a month late.
Some of these committees may have transferred money to other committees controlled by the sameindividuals, though a quick look shows that none of these transactions have been made recently. Even if they did, however, this does not allow them to simply avoid filing for their former committees.Former Senator Pedro Espada has more committees on this list than any other candidate. Two of hiscampaign committees and two PACs have a total of $378,499.68 in the bank, none of which have filed inthe past two years.
Committee Name LinkLast Known $ OnHandLast Time ReportingTransactionsLast Time Filinga No-Activity-ReportFRIENDS OF STEVE LEVY
2
 Link
$4,012,403.71 2011 July None FiledFRIENDS OF PETE MC GOWANLink
$1,127,007.38 2006 January None FiledNEW YORKERS FOR ESPADALink
$290,556.24 2010 11 Pre Primary None FiledRECALL BALLLink
$200,000.00 2008 July None Filedclear that any candidate committee who has raised or spent over $1,000 during the course of any campaign for
which they were originally created can only file these reports if “there has not
been any activity (
i.e
., receipts
and/or expenditures, including interest, dividends, and bank charges) during the reporting period.”
See, e.g
., NewYork State Board of Elections Campaign Finance Handbook 2012, p. 121:http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/download/finance/hndbk2012.pdf ) 
2
 
Steve Levy surrendered the remainder of his war chest to the Suffolk County DA’s office. He is, however, still
required to file under election law.
 
FRIENDS OF DICK GOTTFRIEDLink
$150,497.08 2012 January None FiledFRIENDS OF LEECIA EVELink
$71,430.77 2010 July 2011 JulyCOMMITTEE TO RE-ELECT STATESENATOR OLGA A. MENDEZLink
$70,821.48 2004 11 Pre General None FiledANNE ADAMS FOR JUSTICELink
$66,000.00 2008 July None FiledESPADA FOR THE PEOPLELink$62,593.51 2008 11 Pre Primary None FiledTRUTH ABOUT BALLLink
$50,000.00 2008 July None FiledMONSERRATE 2010Link
$46,731.51 2010 32 Pre Primary None FiledPEOPLE FOR JIMMY DAHROUGLink
$45,565.82 2009 July None FiledFRIENDS OF MCCALL/MEHIELLink
$43,281.98 2006 January 2006 JulyRESPONSIBLE NEW YORKLink
$41,556.11 2012 January None FiledCOMMITTEE TO ELECT ELIO FORCINALink
$40,907.15 2011 January 2012 JanuaryWRIGHT FOR THE COUNTYLink
$40,834.90 2010 July None FiledFRIENDS OF MICHAEL BENJAMINLink
$40,592.65 2010 July None FiledNEW YORKERS FOR DILANLink
$39,615.83 2011 January None FiledWILLIAM F. BOYLAND JR 2010 RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGNLink
$30,950.00 2010 July None FiledFRIENDS OF CHRISTIAN BROWNELink
$28,260.28 2012 January None FiledCHARLIE 2010Link
$28,021.87 2010 10 PG None FiledMARTINO 2010Link
$27,114.34 2010 32 Pre Primary 2012 JanuaryFRIENDS OF JOHN RUIZ FOR PUBLICOFFICELink
$25,018.87 2010 11 Pre General 2011 JanuaryFRIENDS OF ANTHONY NANULALink
$24,019.44 2001 January 2003 JulyVOTE FOR DAVE KERPENLink
$22,913.00 2009 July 2011 JulyFRIENDS OF LYNN NUNESLink
$22,356.41 2010 10 Post Primary 2012 JanuaryCOMMITTEE FOR RE-ELECTION OFSENATOR ADA L. SMITHLink
$22,184.74 2007 January None FiledFRIENDS OF LEON R. KOZIOLLink
$22,057.40 2007 11 Pre General 2009 JulyC. VIRGINIA FIELDS FOR STATESENATELink
$22,054.09 2006 July None FiledPEOPLE FOR CASTELLANOSLink
$21,175.06 2010 January None FiledFRIENDS OF TERENCE PARKLink
$20,827.99 2006 11 Pre Primary 2012 JanuaryLATESSA FOR ASSEMBLYLink
$19,622.02 2010 10 Post Primary None FiledCOMMITTEE TO REELECT SENATORPEDRO ESPADA, JR.Link
$19,171.19 2002 32 Pre General 2003 JanuaryFRIENDS OF AL CURTISLink
$18,583.31 2005 July 2006 JanuaryINDEPENDENCE PARTY ROCKLANDCOUNTY COMMITTEELink
$18,334.88 2007 January None FiledTOWN OF LLOYD REPUBLICANCOMMITTEELink
$17,177.65 2010 July None FiledFRIENDS OF ANTOINE THOMPSONLink
$16,842.18 2006 July None FiledFRIENDS OF GREGG LUNDAHLLink
$16,752.67 2011 January None FiledINDEPENDENCE PARTY CLUB OFLink
$15,458.67 2012 January None Filed

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