Just in time for the 2017 election cycle, the City Council is set to scale back oversight of its own members’ cash infusions from New York City’s taxpayer-backed campaign fund matching program.
They must not get away with it.
The program, intended to amplify the voices of small-fry donors in local elections, offers a 6-to-1 match for every dollar contributed by city residents. The first $175 is matchable, meaning a maximum grant of $1,050. In 2013 elections, the matches totaled $33 million.
To ensure that the private contributions that trigger public support are on the up and up, donors are simply asked to certify that their contributions are kosher under law.
Giving a check? Sign a card that says “I understand that State law requires that a contribution be in my name and be from my own funds.”
Are you a city contractor or lobbyist, thereby barred from giving more than $250 to a Council candidate and $400 for mayor? Spell it out.
That’s it — hardly a lie-detector test, but an important caution against illegal straw donations, like those that hobbled former Controller John Liu’s 2013 mayoral bid , and against corrupting, oversized contributions.
Yet here come Councilmen David Greenfield and Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn, with legislation, popular in a self-serving Council, that would eliminate the requirement for most contributions by check. And credit card. And text message. And many by money order.
Where the forms would still be required — for instance, for contributions made in cash — the measure would give campaigns authority to complete or correct the paperwork on donors’ behalf.