The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council stands in support of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s proposed campaign disclosure requirements for nonprofit organizations that spend money to influence elections in our state. As we approach the third anniversary of the infamous Citizens United Supreme Court decision this Sunday, we are reminded of the urgency of measures like this one, which will bring much-needed transparency to the “dark money” that is increasingly influencing the outcome of our elections.
The Attorney General’s proposal would require all tax exempt organizations in New York State (except 501(c)(3) organizations which are already prohibited from engaging in partisan activity) to disclose what percentage of their expenditures are used for the purposes of local, state and federal electioneering. Those nonprofits that spend more than $10,000 on state and local elections will be required to file an itemized schedule of campaign expenditures and contributions. The regulations are primarily aimed at 501(c)(4) organizations, which according to the Attorney General’s office, exceeded traditional political action committee spending in the last two election cycles.
These regulations, coupled with a renewed push for a statewide campaign finance program, which Governor Cuomo has pledged to champion this year, will help make New York State a leader in efforts to stem the tide of big corporate dollars in our elections, even as the national movement for a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United continues to grow.
If the 2012 election taught us anything, it’s that even the most outrageous spending from SuperPACs cannot completely silence the voice of the people. Still, we must do all we can at the local, state and national level to shine daylight on “dark money,” and we thank Attorney General Schneiderman for his courageous stance on this issue.