City Councilman Brad Lander is looking to rein in exploding expenditures from super PAC-like groups with proposed new legislation that would slap cigarette-style warnings on their mailings, among other regulations.
The package of proposed reforms comes as outside groups are pouring millions of dollars into city races through so-called “independent expenditures,” following the Citizens United court decision, which allows near-unlimited spending, as long as the groups don’t directly co-ordinate with campaigns. Of particular concern to Mr. Lander in the real estate industry-backed “Jobs 4 NY” committee, which has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on local City Council races–sometimes in the face of candidates’ opposition.
On Monday, the State Senate Corporations Committee will vote on legislation that would force businesses to disclose political donations. Senator Daniel Squadron sponsored the Corporate Political Accountability to Shareholders Act to address the effects Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision of January 2010 that allowed businesses to make undisclosed and campaign contributions through super PACs.
“As we all look on in horror at the effect of Citizen’s United on the political process, here in New York, we have a chance to do something about it. This bill would reign in unchecked corporate influence in a way that the Supreme Court still allows,” Mr. Squadron told The Politicker. “It would require shareholders of corporations to approve political spending, it would require disclosre of political spending and it would require corporations to justify the corporate puprose of that spending. Too often people are using corporations to grind their own political axe. It’s not good for shareholders and it’s not good for the political system.”
An organization created by Bill de Blasio has hired its first executive director whose job will be to publicize “undisclosed” political spending allowed by the Citizen’s United ruling, the public advocate’s office announced.
Leading the Coalition for Accountability in Public Spending will be Kate Coyne-McCoy, who previously was the regional director for Emily’s List. CAPS is getting funding from a $400,000, 2-year grant from the Open Society Foundations.