Press Releases

Legal and Good Government Groups Call for Reform of Campaign Finance Oversight

A group of organizations is calling for reform to campaign finance oversight in New York State. In a statement, the New York City Bar Association, Brennan Center, Citizens Union, Common Cause, League of Women Voters NY, New York Public Interest Research Group and Reinvent Albany say that one of the two major oversight agencies – the Chief Enforcement Counsel of the State Board of Elections (“the CEC”) – is “designed for inaction.” The CEC’s cumbersome two-step process is preventing the CEC from “meaningfully enforcing the law against the more than 15,000 candidates and committees at the state and local level that the CEC regulates,” according to the statement.

No enforcement activity has been reported for over two years, yet numerous cases of non-compliance have been documented. Moreover the statement says that generally there are no meaningful consequences for candidates who violate the law because “the civil penalties in the Election Law do not cover much of the conduct that the CEC is authorized to address.”

The signatory organizations call on the State Legislature to “establish a single campaign finance board to enforce all campaign finance laws and further empower the board to enforce the laws.” They propose that the new campaign finance entity be modelled on the existing Public Campaign Finance Board, whose oversight now extends only to those candidates who participate in the public campaign finance program.

In case the Legislature will not create a new campaign finance oversight body, the statement makes proposals for meaningful reform of the CEC, including revising the administrative hearing process, establishing streamlined procedures for enforcing routine violations, establishing comprehensive civil penalties, and requiring more transparency of enforcement activities.
Read the full statement here: