Legislation Prohibits Coordination Between Candidates and Independent Expenditure Committees and Strengthens Disclosure Requirements For Political Consultants and Lobbyists
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed first-in-the-nation legislation (S.8160/A.10742) to curb the power of independent expenditure campaigns unleashed by the 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. The legislation also takes significant steps to strengthen disclosure requirements for political consultants and lobbyists who provide services to sitting elected officials or candidates for elected office by requiring them to register with the state and reveal their clients.
“New York is taking aggressive action to restore the people’s faith in government and increase accountability and transparency in the electoral process,” Governor Cuomo said. “These actions roll back the disastrous influence of Citizens United and prohibit coordination between candidates and independent expenditure committees. Through enhanced enforcement and increased penalties for political consultants who flout the law, this new legislation will root out bad actors and shine a spotlight on the sordid influence of dark money in politics. With this legislation, New York is raising the bar once again – and now it’s time for the rest of the nation to follow suit.”
In 2010, the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision unleashed a torrent of dark money into electoral politics. By permitting independent expenditure committees to receive and spend unlimited amounts of funds on elections, the Court bestowed unlimited power on society’s most powerful individuals and entities, and revoked what little power ordinary citizens had left in our electoral process.
This new legislation will work to restore the people’s faith in government by instituting the strongest anti-coordination law in the country and explicitly prohibiting coordination in New York State election law for the first time. The legislation expressly identifies which activities constitute prohibited coordination, and strictly prohibits coordination in egregious scenarios, such as the "independent" spender being an immediate family member of the candidate, as well as in subtle scenarios, such as the dissemination of a candidate's campaign material by supposedly "independent" groups. This will allow the state’s electoral politics to achieve a clear and meaningful demarcation between candidates and unlimited expenditures and will bring much-needed reforms to New York's campaign finance system.
Additionally, the legislation increases penalties for lobbying violations, while providing enhanced due process for individuals under investigation for potential violations. Political consultants that provide services to sitting elected officials or candidates and who have clients with business before the government will also be required to register with the state and disclose their clients. This prevents organizations from corrupting the political process and utilizing funds that are not intended for political purposes. Disclosure of political relationships and funding behaviors widely recognized to be influential, but which operate in the shadows, is essential to restoring confidence in the political process.
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