From the Times Ledger:
Some Queens state legislators said using campaign funds to donate money to struggling local nonprofits is not necessarily a good practice — even though campaign records indicate many engage in the activity.
“Technically, it’s probably not a good idea to use campaign funds to fund nonprofit groups,” said state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside). “But on the other hand, we’re desperate.”
He said nonprofits have been hit hard financially since the downturn of the economy left less for people to donate and a 2010 ban on member-item spending in Albany gave state legislators few other ways to help out.
He said a number of nonprofits who do important work in their local communities are desperate for funds and are in danger of shuttering their doors.
“Something’s clearly got to be done,” he said. “You can’t fault anybody for trying to fill in the void as best we can.”
Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) also agreed that nonprofits have been hurt from the lack of discretionary money and she did not think donating to a nonprofit is an abuse of campaign funds.
But she said making the connection between donating to a nonprofit and furthering a political campaign in many cases is difficult.
“I don’t think that’s the purpose of campaign funds, quite frankly,” she said.
An official at the state Board of Elections said contributions received by candidates may be expended for any lawful purpose as long as it is not for personal use or the charitable organization is not connected to the public official through a family member.