A conservative political action committee can accept unlimited contributions to support Republican nominee Joe Lhota in the mayor's race, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. Credit: NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images.
A conservative political action committee can accept unlimited contributions to support Republican nominee Joe Lhota in the mayor's race, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
The Second Circuit ruled that the New york Progress and Protection PAC can accept more than the $150,000 individual contribution limit imposed by state election law.
The independent PAC argued it had at least one donor, a businessman from Alabama, willing to give $200,000 to support Lhota.
Earlier this month District Judge Paul Crotty denied the PAC's bid, saying that allowing such large contribution would be disruptive just weeks before the election.
But, with less than two weeks to go, the circuit court reversed the decision and issued a preliminary injection putting the law on hold.
"The Supreme Court held in Citizens United v. FEC that the government has no anti-corruption interest in limiting independent expenditures," Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote in the unanimous decision for the appeals court. "It follows that a donor to an independent expenditure committee such as NYPPP is even further removed from political candidates and may not be limited in his ability to contribute to such committees."
Jacobs added, "All federal circuit courts that have addressed this issue have so held."
Lhota would not comment on the decision at an unrelated campaign stop in Brooklyn Thursday morning.
But a campaign spokeswoman for Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio said the decision will "empower right-wing billionaires," allowing groups to "drown out the voices of New Yorkers."
"The stakes are too high to let the same Republican extremists who shut down the government hijack the mayoral election," the spokeswoman said.