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Independent Expenditures To Influence Local Elections

Friday, May 31, 2013

WNYC

While it's a relatively new phenomenon for local elections, in the last presidential race groups with names like Restore our Future and Priorities USA Action spent hundreds of millions of dollars influence its outcome. But now a developer-related group is vowing to spend $10 million to influence local City Council races.

The New York Times reports several business leaders, developers and construction unions plan to spend $10 million under the rubric of a political action group called Jobs for New York.

Those groups could spend that money because of the Citizens United decision, where the Supreme Court ruled there could be no restrictions on independent political spending by corporations, groups or labor unions.

Now the same kind of spending is happening on a local level. But there are disclosure rules. Groups need to report to the campaign finance board if they spend $1,000 or more, disclose contributors if they spend $5,000 or more and most importantly, those groups can not coordinate their activities with individual candidates.

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