FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2007
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SIGNS LEGISLATION STRENGTHENING CITY'S CAMPAIGN FINANCE PROGRAM
Remarks by Mayor Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Laws
"The next bill before me is Introductory Number 586-A, sponsored in conjunction with the Administration by Speaker Quinn and Council Members Felder, Rivera, Comrie, Fidler, de Blasio, Dickens, Arroyo, Jackson, Garodnick, Gentile, Gerson, Gioia, James, Lappin, Mark-Viverito, McMahon, Nelson, Recchia, Reyna, Seabrook, Stewart, Vacca, Weprin, White, Liu and Mendez. This bill will strengthen the City's landmark Campaign Finance Program by placing strict restrictions on what are called 'pay to play' contributions - the practice of giving large campaign contributions in order to influence government.
"The Campaign Finance Program was adopted in 1988 to reduce corruption and diminish the influence that special interests wield in city government. The law has been enhanced several times since 1988, and in 1998, voters passed a referendum requiring candidates to disclose, and allowing the Campaign Finance Board to restrict, 'pay-to-play' contributions. Introductory Number 578-A will finally fulfill the voters' mandate by requiring the disclosure of contributions from those who do business with the City, reduce the amounts that candidates may accept from such contributors, and eliminate public matching funds for such contributions. These new provisions will strengthen the integrity of City government and enhance its transparency - two critically important goals of our Administration.
"The bill will also enhance the value of smaller contributions made by everyday New Yorkers by modifying the public matching funds formula, raising the matching rate from 4-to-1 to 6-to-1 and lowering the amount that may be matched from $250 to $175. At the same time, the bill will help reduce waste by setting strengthening standards designed to prevent the distribution of matching funds to candidates who face nominal opponents.
"In addition, the bill establishes clear deadlines for the completion of Campaign Finance Board audits and fair procedures for candidates to challenge Board determinations; closes loopholes in the ban on corporate contributions by also including limited liability companies and partnerships; and improves public disclosures by expanding the definition of an intermediary - a person, also known as a 'bundler,' who solicits contributions for a campaign.
"All campaign reforms must be viewed as a work in progress, and certainly the City's campaign finance program is no exception. This bill is a major advance for the program, particularly the 'pay-to-play' restrictions. No other city or state in the nation has attempted such an ambitious undertaking, and we recognize that the databases required to enforce the law will be both difficult to build and, like all complex databases, imperfect. But, as I have said, we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The voters demanded that we act back in 1998 to create a more transparent government that is less susceptible to corruption and improper influence, and that is exactly what we are doing.
"I would like to thank my staff, led by Deputy Mayor Skyler, Haeda Mihaltses, Anthony Crowell, Patrick Wehle, Marla Simpson, Frank Barry, as well as Steve Louis of the Law Department, for their work on this bill. I would also like to thank Speaker Quinn, Chair Felder and the Council and its staff for their work and approval of this legislation."
Stu Loeser/Matthew Kelly (212) 788-2958
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