Court Dismisses Campaign Finance Challenge

The Second Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals dismissed a challenge today to the city’s campaign finance laws.

The plaintiffs, who include the New York State Conservative Party, former lieutenant governor candidate Tom Ognibene and State Senator Martin Dilan hoped to loosen some of the restrictions that limit the political giving of those who do business with the city.

Among those restrictions are a $400 limit on the campaign contributions from individuals and entities that have business dealings with the city, excluding those contributions from  the public financing program and expanding the prohibition on contributions from corporations.

The plaintiffs argued that the restrictions were unconstitutional; the court found however that “the laws are closely drawn to address the significant governmental interest in reducing corruption or the appearance thereof.”

The law has greatly restricted the ability of lobbyists and the business community to have their typical outsized role in elections. In 2006, the Campaign Finance Board found that lobbyists and companies that do business with the city comprised over 20 percent of the contributions lawmakers took in, while only making up five percent of the contributors.