Report: NYC Public Financing Widely Used, Created Competition

New York City Campaign Finance Board report: “Candidate participation in the Program has remained extremely high, indicating most candidates feel that matching funds provide an effective way to fund their campaign.

  • “The general election for mayor featured Program participants from both major parties for the first time since 1997. The CFB paid $14 million to mayoral candidates, the most in Program history.
  • “The 2013 elections were the most competitive since 2001. In the Democratic primary for City Council, 38 of 51 districts had contested or competitive races. (Just 30 percent of state Assembly and Senate districts in New York City will have a contested Democratic primary on September 9.)
  • “Two Program candidates for citywide office defeated high-spending, self-funded candidates in the primary elections (Republican mayoral, Democratic comptroller).”

UT City Council, Mayor Signed Resolution Against Citizens United

St. Louis Tribune: “Mayor Ralph Becker and the City Council signed a joint resolution Tuesday recognizing opposition to the 2010 “”Citizens United”” Supreme Court decision that opened funding floodgates in political campaigns.

The action, acknowledged that 89 percent of Salt Lake City voters who responded to the city’s 2013 opinion question opposed the “”Citizens United”” ruling, which found that corporations were people and money was speech and government could not legally restrict independent political contributions.

According to a statement from the Utah Chapter of the national grassroots organization called Move to Amend, Salt Lake City will join over 600 U.S. cities opposed to the Supreme Court ruling.”

CA City Council to Vote on Expanding Ethics Commission’s Power

East Bay Express: “The second prong of a plan by city Councilmember Dan Kalb to increase transparency and accountability in City Hall calls for the council to approve the Oakland Government Ethics Act. The act would give the ethics commission the power to enforce a new, sweeping set of ethics rules in the city. The council is scheduled to hold a final vote on the act on December 9.

“As strange as it sounds, the Oakland Public Ethics Commission (PEC), created by city voters in 1996, has never had the authority to actually enforce ethics rules, in part because Oakland didn’t have a comprehensive set of regulations like other cities do. Instead, the PEC has focused mostly on political campaign reporting violations, local open-meeting violations, and other issues. However, the PEC lacked the staff and authority to actually do anything about those violations when it found evidence of them.

“Measure CC, a city charter amendment, changed that aspect of the PEC. It mandated that the city council, beginning on July 1 of next year, increase the PEC’s budget from about $300,000 a year to about $750,000 a year so that the commission can hire four additional full-time staffers. Currently, the PEC only has a budget for two full-time staffers — not enough to effectively investigate campaign finance and open-meeting laws.”

“But not included in Measure CC was a comprehensive set of ethics rules. And that’s where the Oakland Government Ethics Act comes in. Drafted by Kalb and a working group of good-government advocates and co-sponsored by City Attorney Barbara Parker, the act would give the PEC the power to enforce new rules that ban so-called revolving-door and pay-to-play politics and limit the value of gifts that politicians can receive from lobbyists and other special interests.”

NYC Looks to Expand Matching Fund Program with Text Message Donations

Gotham Gazette: “By year’s end the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) is expected to pass new rules that will govern how campaigns accept contributions via text message. The rules stem from Local Law 11 of 2013 which allows candidates running for local offices to accept contributions through what is typically a cell-phone-based format. If a text-message donor is a New York City resident, the given funds will be eligible for public matching dollars from the CFB.

“‘Text message contributions provide candidates with the potential to engage a wider set of contributors and the Board with an opportunity to expand the reach of New York City’s landmark small donor matching funds program,’ CFB Chair Rose Gill Hearn said on Monday at a public hearing on the proposed rules. ‘There are, however, practical challenges to text message fundraising.'”

“The CFB held Monday’s hearing on the proposed rules to address some of those challenges with stakeholders. The proposed rules will limit text message contributions to $99, a cap the CFB says will help ensure eligibility compliance. There was no objection to the donation limit at Monday’s hearing, but there was a hearty discussion about the rules regarding the timing of texted contributions and how candidates will verify donors are using their own phones.”