NYPIRG Faults Rice's Fundraising Math

rice1 NYPIRG Faults Rice's Fundraising MathEarlier, we posted about a release that the Rice campaign sent out touting how they had raised more money from small donors than any other campaign.

The campaign-finance gurus over at NYPIRG however have run their numbers and they say that Rice’s methodology is flawed. Campaigns do not have to itemize how much they have raised from donors who give under $100, and so there is no way of knowing, as Rice’s campaign claims, that just 12 percent of Eric Schneiderman’s campaign donations were from donors who gave less than $100, or that just 16 percent of Sean Coffey’s money come from low-dollar, grassroots donations.

According to Bill Mahoney, a researcher with NYPIRG, 99.9 percent of campaigns in New York State do not list donors under $100, since there is simply too much paperwork and the law does not require it. By listing each of her two-digit dollar amount and under donors, Rice inflated her number of donors when compared side-by-side with her competitors.

“If she itemized all of her contributions, no matter how small, she was able to add several hundred donors to her total,” he said. “She says, for example, that Eric Schneiderman received 129 donations, but he definitely received more than that. We just have no way of knowing how many he received because he did not itemize his donations.”

In fact, Mahoney says, when comparing apples to apples–when comparing how much money from checks $100 or under each campaign received as a percentage of their fundraising this calendar–Rice has received the least of any of the candidates, with just .61 percent of her total money raised coming from small donors. The candidate whose war chest is the most filled with small dollar donations is Richard Brodsky, who has raised close to 3% of his total from small checks.

The Rice campaign meanwhile noted that they had more small donor cash than their competitors, and said that they itemized each of their donations not to inflate their totals but for transparency’s sake.

“We think grassroots support and transparency are good things,” said Eric Phillips, Rice’s spokesman. “According to these public reports, we have far more donors and far more low-dollar, grassroots contributions than any other candidate in the race. I don’t think this is a function of other campaigns lacking transparency, but a function of our grassroots support.  But there’s no doubt that we’re proud to have been the most transparent and the most detailed in our disclosure report.”