Councilman Avella Announces Campaign Reform Bill

By Christine Lin
Christine Lin
Christine Lin
Christine Lin is an arts reporter for the Epoch Times. She can be found lurking in museum galleries and poking around in artists' studios when not at her desk writing.
July 24, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015
CLEAN MONEY: NYC Councilman Tony Avella on the steps of City Hall announces new campaign fund raising legislation that will level the playing field for candidates. (Christine Lin The Epoch Times)
CLEAN MONEY: NYC Councilman Tony Avella on the steps of City Hall announces new campaign fund raising legislation that will level the playing field for candidates. (Christine Lin The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—City Councilmember Tony Avella will introduce legislation that will change the way public office candidates fundraise for their campaigns.

To be introduced at the Wed., July 23 council meeting, the Clean Money, Clean Elections bill would eliminate the petition process and large corporate and special interest donations that may sway politicians’ campaigns.

"The current system doesn't allow level a playing field," said Avella.

Under the proposed system, a candidate would collect $5 donations from constituents in their district. When the candidate reaches the donation threshold, the amount of which will depend on the level of office they seek, will be eligible for public funds. Each candidate will get the same amount, reducing campaign costs, which have more than doubled in twelve years.

An aggregate of campaign funds of 14 potential candidates for city office showed that over 96% of their funds come from donations of over $175, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board. Donations over $175 may not be counted towards the dollar amount requirement to qualify for public funds.

Currently, candidates who participate in the public matching funds program will receive six dollars in public funds for every dollar donated by a New York City resident. The matching public funds program is intended to “make candidates less dependent on large contributions and assisting candidates who do not have access to large moneyed sources,” reads its Web site.

The real estate industry donates the most to city office candidates, according to Dan Jacoby, an organizer with Democracy for New York City, an organization under Democracy for America, the organization founded by Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean.

The legislation would not impact the mayoral elections in 2009, but would take effect in 2010 if passed. Candidates who finance their own campaigns would still be able to do so, according to Avella.

Maine, Arizona, and Connecticut already employ a similar system on a state level.

Christine Lin is an arts reporter for the Epoch Times. She can be found lurking in museum galleries and poking around in artists' studios when not at her desk writing.