An outside political action committee supporting Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota scored a significant legal victory today–leaving Democrat Bill de Blasio’s campaign fuming.
“Today’s decision will empower the right-wing billionaires, like the Koch Brothers, and Tea Party groups who support Joe Lhota to drown out the voices of New Yorkers,” Lis Smith, Mr. de Blasio’s spokeswoman, said in a statement.
She added, “The stakes are too high to let the same Republican extremists who shut down the government hijack the mayoral election.”
Ms. Smith was reacting to today’s Second Circuit ruling in favor of the New York Progress and Protection PAC, allowing the group to accept contributions over the $150,000 state limit for independent expenditures in light of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
The ruling overturned a lower court’s decision to deny the PAC’s request for a preliminary injunction and could provide a much-needed financial boost for Mr. Lhota, who is distantly trailing Mr. de Blasio in the polls and lagging behind in the fund-raising race as well.
But with just two weeks before Election Day, even a huge expenditure on his behalf may not be enough to help Mr. Lhota catch up.
The Lhota campaign declined to comment but Terry Pell, president of The Center for Individual Rights, which was co-counsel in the suit, took a victory lap in a statement:
“Today is a victory for the citizens of New York. Every court that has examined this issue has concluded that states may not limit individual donations to an independent PAC. The right of individuals to participate in election speech is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendment and the state cannot ration independent campaign speech. We are pleased that today’s ruling will allow New York’s mayoral election to proceed without the burden of unconstitutional campaign limits.”
Update (1:49 p.m.): With Mr. Pell’s comments.