Empowering Small Donors: New York City's Multiple Match Public Financing as a Model for a Post-Citizens United World

By Loprest, Amy; Perskie, Bethany | Fordham Urban Law Journal, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Empowering Small Donors: New York City's Multiple Match Public Financing as a Model for a Post-Citizens United World


Loprest, Amy, Perskie, Bethany, Fordham Urban Law Journal


Introduction   I. Background       A. History of the New York City Campaign Finance Act       B. Provisions of the New York City Campaign Finance          Act  II. Evolving Jurisprudence       A. Supreme Court       B. Judicial Challenges to the New York City Program III. Impact of Supreme Court holdings on Campaign Finance       A. High Spending Candidates       B. Independent Expenditures IV. Small Donor Democracy Conclusion 

Introduction

Recent Supreme Court holdings have opened the door to unprecedented levels of campaign spending by both candidates and third parties. (1) Independent spenders are unrestricted in the amount they spend in support of or in opposition to candidates. (2) Public financing systems are not permitted to provide additional financial assistance to publicly financed opponents of highspending, independently financed candidates. To avoid having the entire spectrum of political speech dominated by wealthy individuals and special interest groups, state and local governments must administer public financing programs that maximize the impact of small contributions while avoiding the type of "trigger" system that the Court has deemed an unjustified infringement on First Amendment rights. (3)

The New York City Campaign Finance Program (the "Program") seeks to achieve this end with its low-dollar multiple match system, which awards public funds at a six-to-one ratio for small contributions to participating candidates, who must adhere to an overall expenditure limit. (4) The multiple match element of the Program provides participants with the ability to challenge candidates who are heavily financed by their own personal funds and/or those of independent spenders. Because the spending of an opposing candidate does not trigger an award of additional matching funds, the Program is compliant with the parameters set forth by the Supreme Court.

This Article will address the evolution of the Court's jurisprudence on high spending candidates and outside actors; judicial challenges to the Program; New York City's experience with high spending candidates; the increasing prevalence of independent expenditures in federal and local elections; and how the City's low-dollar multiple match functions as an effective and constitutional offset to these candidates and outside spenders. The Article concludes that, despite the influx of money from independent spenders and wealthy self-funded candidates, low-dollar multiple match public financing systems can ensure that ordinary citizens have a voice in today's elections.

I. Background

A. History of the New York City Campaign Finance Act

In the late 1980s, New York City government was racked by a series of scandals involving city officials soliciting favors from those seeking contracts with municipal government. (5) Several officials went to prison and Donald Manes, Queens Borough President and head of the borough's Democratic County Committee, committed suicide. (6) Gene Russianoff, an attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group, stated that although the investigations did not actually involve campaign money, "there was a sense at the time that the scandals represented something broader ... it was a concern about the culture." (7)

The Campaign Finance Act (the "Act"), proposed by then-Mayor Ed Koch, was passed by the New York City Council and signed into law on February 29, 1988. (8) Its stated purpose was to bring greater accountability to the political system. (9) On November 8, 1988, the public overwhelmingly approved a city Charter amendment establishing the independent and nonpartisan Campaign Finance Board (the "CFB" or "Board") as a Charter agency. (10) In passing the Act, the City Council found that:

   [B]oth the possibility of privilege and favoritism and the    appearance of impropriety harm the effective functioning of    government. The council further finds that whether or not the    reliance of candidates on large private campaign contributions    actually results in corruption or improper influence, it has a    deleterious effect upon government in that it creates the    appearance of such abuses and thereby gives rise to citizen apathy    and cynicism. 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Empowering Small Donors: New York City's Multiple Match Public Financing as a Model for a Post-Citizens United World
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.