City voters OK’d a major expansion of the public-campaign-finance system last November, but the City Council just can’t stop sweetening the pot even more.
The next step could come as early as Thursday, with an “idealistic” move that just happens to grease the skids for Speaker Corey Johnson’s coming mayoral campaign.
De Blasio vows to reject money from lobbyists — seriously
Looks like Assembly’s top Dems just don’t need little people back home
Nxivm benefactor funneled illegal donations to win Clinton’s favor: ex-cult member
Click Here: Celtic Football Shirts
FBI investigates Trump donation linked to Florida spa owner
The change, like the system itself, will be justified as reducing the influence of big money donors in local elections. But the impact will clearly benefit pols like Johnson, who can milk the rules to the max because they already have extensive donor lists.
Last year’s referendum moved the public “match” from six taxpayer dollars for every qualifying private campaign donation to an 8:1 ratio — starting in 2021. Yet the ink wasn’t even dry before Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) pushed through a bill making the 8:1 match an option immediately. It also allowed matching funds to be turned over much earlier in the cycle — up to six months before candidates even qualify for the ballot.
Naturally, almost every candidate in the special election for public advocate chose the higher match. And every competent campaign is sure to demand as much free money as soon as possible.
Now Kallos is looking to further amend the law by increasing the total amount that candidates can get from the public match.
Right now, taxpayers are only on the line for up to 75 percent of the total maximum spending that the law allows each campaign. Kallos wants that to rise to 89 percent.
That is: A candidate can max out simply by raising enough qualifying private donations, then getting eight times that amount from the taxpayers.
This may slightly cut the power of big givers, but the fact is that it mainly benefits the handful of well-established pols who start with a big pool of small givers.
Like Speaker Johnson — who, as it happens, has already said he won’t take donations over $250.
Under existing rules, that might leave him unable to raise as much as others, so that a rival campaign could spend about $1 million more. Kallos means to “fix” that.
By the way, none of these changes does anything to rein in one class of privileged donors: union PACs, which can donate far more than any private company is allowed to give.
Very high-minded, these reformers.