Written by Connor Boehme
Campaign Finance Reform has become more and more a bipartisan issue over the last year with large sections of the Republican base joining progressive Democrats in demanding that the influence of big money and lobbyists be curtailed. New York, often thought to be a progressive state, lags behind much of the country on fair election issues. Antiquated loopholes let special interests pour huge amounts of money into political campaigns forcing elected officials to spend inordinate time worrying about the interests of particular individuals or businesses at the expense of other constituents.
One of the worst-offending loopholes is the infamous “LLC Loophole” a gap in our regulations so egregious even Republicans who oppose most campaign finance reform, such as the Hudson Valley’s own State Senator Sue Serino, have expressed a desire to close it.
What is the LLC Loophole?
In 1996, the Board of Election decided to treat LLCs (Limited Liability Corporations) as individuals instead of businesses. This meant that instead of being limited to a $5,000 contribution, LLCs can contribute up to $60,800. In addition, donors can set up multiple LLCs to further increase their contribution potential.
How Can We Close It?
Democrats in the Assembly and State Senate, as well as Governor Cuomo, have expressed consistent interest in closing the loophole as well as other major campaign finance reform efforts. In order for relevant legislation to pass the State Senate, Republicans and Independent Democrats need to feel significant community pressure. Our State Senator Sue Serino has already expressed interest in closing the loophole. Call her office to let her know you appreciate her speaking up about this important issue and to ask her to make it a legislative priority in this session.
And visit Common Cause to learn more and take action.