Council members propose legislation to curb and label independent expenditures for campaigns

A mock-up of the labels proposed by City Council members to identify communications paid for by independent expenditures.   Credit: City Councilman Brad Lander's Office
A mock-up of the labels proposed by City Council members to identify communications paid for by independent expenditures.
Credit: City Councilman Brad Lander’s Office

City Council members announced legislation Tuesday that would restrict campaign expenditures from political groups and require more transparency of who is funding them.

Through “independent expenditures,” corporations and individuals can spend spend more money than is normally allowed to influence elections, so long as candidates are distanced from the cash. Such expenditures are particularly worrisome in City Council races, officials said, because big spending can potentially overwhelm competing candidates limited to spending $168,000.

The package of legislation that will be introduced this fall would close the so-called “LLC loophole” that treats LLC as individuals and allows them to donate up to $150,000 a year to political committees.

The proposed legislation would also require the disclosure of top donors in ads and other communications paid for by independent expenditures.

Another part of the legislation would slap a “warning” label on communications paid for by such expenditures.

Brad Lander, one of the council members proposing the bill, said donation-matching by the city’s Campaign Finance Board “levels the playing field.”

“But huge, independent expenditures by corporations threaten to upend that system,” Lander said in a statement. “In some City Council races, developers are spending several times more than the candidates themselves.”

Lander specifically calls out “Jobs for NY,” a group spearheaded by the Real Estate Board of NY to support the interests of real estate developers.

Jobs for NY raised over $6 million for this year’s election cycle, according to Lander’s office. Taking in large contributions, the group could spend three to five times more than what City Council candidates are allowed to spend, as much as $85 a vote.

Shrugging off the proposal, Jobs for NY spokesman Phil Singer said in a statement that the group complies with city and state campaign fince

“Considering that much of what Mr. Lander is proposing does not appear to be legal—based on what the Campaign Finance Board itself has said—it is clear that that this proposal is a political document that has no chance of withstanding legal scrutiny,” Singer said. “The city would be better served if Mr. Lander focused on developing proposals that create good jobs and additional housing and improve economic opportunities for New Yorkers.”

Still, advocates believe the bill will ultimately help voters.

Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY, said special interest can influence elections from “behind a veil of secrecy.”

“That’s a huge problem for voters who can’t make an informed decision or hold candidates responsible for their backers,” Lerner said in a statement.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.


Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.


Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.


Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.


Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.


How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.


VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.


#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.