Starting in December, real estate interests — which have helped bankroll so many city campaigns — will be severely restricted from giving contributions to political candidates. That is a big problem for Melinda R. Katz, a candidate for city comptroller. As chairwoman of the City Council’s Land Use Committee, Ms. Katz has taken in hundreds of thousands of dollars from the real estate industry.
A Candidate Plans Early for a Runoff
But Ms. Katz has come up with an unusual request that would allow her to keep the money from the real estate industry flowing. She has asked the city’s Campaign Finance Board to permit her to set up an account now that she could tap if she faced a runoff in the comptroller’s election next fall.
That would allow her to keep collecting big donations from the real estate industry for much of this year, while they are still legal, and then spend the money in the heat of battle next year.
Of course, it is not unusual for a candidate, especially someone likely to be a top contender, to set up an account for a runoff campaign ahead of time. But typically, such an account is authorized a month or two before the runoff begins, not 14 months earlier.
And if the city’s Campaign Finance Board approves her request, real estate professionals who have already given her campaign the maximum allowed by law, $4,950, would be able to contribute a fresh $2,475 to a new runoff account, rather than the $200 that will be allowed after the new rules take effect in December.
The board could rule on Ms. Katz’s request as early as Thursday.
Update, 4:15pm from the Daily News: CFB decides against Katz