The city's new campaign finance legislation, intended to curtail influence peddling in government, carves out a special exemption for another group besides labor unions — "affordable housing" providers, many of whom get government money.
A New Loophole Espied in Bill on Campaign Cash
The legislation, which passed the City Council earlier this week, limits campaign contributions from lobbyists and entities that do business with the city to no more than $400 for a citywide candidate. Tucked into the legalese, however, is a clause that states that "affordable housing" providers are not to be included in that category.
"If one looks for people who might be deemed to ‘pay for play' these would be the very people," [Councilman Oliver Koppell] said. "The building of affordable housing is a competitive business."
"It looks like a sophisticated effort by politicians to launder government money and turn it into campaign contributions for themselves," [associate professor of law and real estate at Baruch College, Jay Weiser] said. "It's all dressed up as the virtuous non-profit affordable housing sector." But, he noted, it's a big slice of the economy."