Lawyer: New Golisano PAC Can Spend Whatever it Wants

I just spoke with Tom Golisano’s lawyer, Henry Berger, who told me that Golisano, through the new political action committee that he formally launched today, "can spend whatever he wants" in this fall’s legislative races.

Speaking by phone from his Manhattan office, Berger said Golisano’s committee won’t breach any state spending limits because it won’t be donating directly to any candidates. Instead, the PAC will only be making "independent expenditures" to support or oppose candidates of Golisano’s choosing. This way, Berger said, the PAC’s activities are protected by Golisano’s right to free speech.

"Golisano can spend as much money as he wishes as long as it’s not coordinated" with any campaign, said Berger, who was in the news earlier this year when he helped David Paterson address some campaign finance-related questions that were raised when he became Governor. This means that Golisano can ask candidates about their positions on issues but not ask questions about their campaign resources or strategy, the lawyer explained.

"This is not an easy area of the election law," he said.

For the record, Berger declined to say if he himself is involved with any legislative campaign this year.