Thursday, May 21, 2009

Getting around the campaign finance laws

From the Daily News:

The city built a dam two years ago to stop the flood of special-interest money pouring into campaigns - but it's already sprung a leak.

It was supposed to limit "pay-to-play" - people giving money to candidates in exchange for getting city contracts for their businesses - by putting tight limits on donations from anyone doing business with the city.

Most of us are allowed to give up to $4,950 to a candidate for citywide office - but if you're a senior manager or higher at a company that does city work, you can give only $400.

Yet a close reading of campaign finance reports shows that Stephen Green - whose company, S.L. Green Realty, leases the second floor of a downtown Brooklyn office building to the Health Department - has given that $4,950 maximum to four separate candidates so far.

Douglaston Development does business with the city, and six of its employees - including CEO Jeffrey Levine - are barred from giving contributions larger than $400.

Yet his son Benjamin Levine, a project manager at the company who could not be reached for comment, was able to give $2,500 to Green.

Political money really is like water: No matter what holds it back, when it finds even the tiniest leak, it starts flowing. By fall, this could become a torrent.

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