From the NY Times:
In New York State, a politician can retire, go to jail or even die without losing the right to maintain a working campaign fund.
After a state politician leaves office, it’s time to close shop, including the campaign fund. If donors do not want their money back, any extra could go to charity or schools or something else useful. Yet, as the New York Public Interest Research Group has documented, former politicians in New York State have over $10 million sitting in their various campaign accounts.
State Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, is one of several lawmakers trying to get rid of these permanent treasuries. Her bill would require that former politicians’ funds be closed out within four years of an election or the last day in office, whichever comes later, and within a year after death. The money could go to a charity, the state university system, the state’s general fund or a working campaign. Like most campaign finance reform bills in Albany, this one is stalled by those who enjoy the status quo.
New York also has scandalously high contribution limits and scandalously minimal efforts at enforcement when those limits are broken. The only real solution is to provide public matching funds for small contributions. That model should be the next step when Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislators return to work in Albany.