Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Brennan Center: FCR donation points to need for campaign finance reform

NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, which has called for campaign finance reform in New York, took off yesterday from my story about Forest City Ratner's $58,420 "soft money" donation to the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee's Housekeeping account, noting how that circumvents the typical $5000 corporate contribution limit.

Wrote the Brennan Center's Larry Norden:
We're sure this very large check has nothing to do with the ongoing legal and political battles surrounding Atlantic Yards. And we're sure that this large check will not influence any politicians should they need to consider controversies around Atlantic Yards in the coming months and years. All the same, wouldn't it be nice if we had real limits on corporate campaign contributions, so that we could avoid even the appearance of buying influence?
(Emphasis in original)

The Brennan Center, in a report issued last month, cites the Housekeeping accounts among the issues waiting for reform:
* Reducing contribution limits in all categories;
* Closing the corporate subsidiary loophole and the housekeeping account loophole;
* Ending personal use of campaign funds by candidates;
* Introducing thoughtful restrictions on contributions by state contractors and lobbyists;
* Enhancing enforcement by increasing fines and penalties and properly funding the Board of Elections; and
* Providing meaningful public financing to executive and legislative candidates.

1 comment:

  1. So Forest City Ratner gives $58,420 "soft money" donation to the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee's Housekeeping account and neither Sheldon Silver nor his office will return phone calls or e-mail from WNYC’s reporter Matt Schuerman? (See Links below.)

    So you are a fly on the wall in Sheldon Silver’s office:

    An aide worries about returning the communications from Schuerman before the WNYC story runs. “$58,420? Don’t worry we need to say something?”

    “Don’t worry,” says Silver: “It’s a one-day story. We’ve got the money. It will blow over in a day. Then nobody's ever going to remember or think about it again."

    The Brennen Center assesses “We're sure this very large check has nothing to do with the ongoing legal and political battles surrounding Atlantic Yards.” Tongue in cheek or not, how much more humorously inaccurate does this assessment seem when Mr. Silver stonewalls and won’t return phone calls? (This will have some died-in-the-wool-democrats thinking in two-party terms.)

    We need to call upon all politicians to be effective in doing the right thing on Atlantic Yards which means recovering the many hundreds of millions of dollars being improperly spent on it without proper competitive bid and having a smaller properly designed project awarded to multiple developers by competitive bid without eminent domain abuse. Ratner’s $58,420 "to the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee should not prevent that.

    Links:
    Developer's Donation Raises Eyebrows
    by Matthew Schuerman.
    http://www.wnyc.org/news/articles/93564
    See also clarifications that:

    1.) Actual construction on the project has not started, and
    2.) Explanation of how recent Ratner family contributions have been made.
    No Comments From Both Sides of Ratner's $58K
    http://www.dddb.net/php/latestnews_ArchiveDate.php

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