The Working Families Party announced they’ve hired Skadden Arps and former Chief Judge Judith Kaye to review their business structure in hopes of clarifying what critics have said are questionable arrangements designed to skirt the city’s campaign spending laws.
“Now that Election Day is behind us, the firm will begin that review and recommend any necessary changes, improvements or modifications that Judge Kaye and her colleagues believe necessary to ensure maximum transparency and continued adherence to the highest legal and ethical standards,” read the announcement, which was released at Friday at 4 p.m.
Kaye is one of the most widely respected former judges in New York and her enlistment by the WFP is presumably intended pre-empt a formal public rebuke from the city Campaign Finance Board. (If she finds wrongdoing, they can say that they have owned up to them and are taking steps to correct them; if she doesn’t, they can claim to have been clear by no less an authority than Judith Kaye.)
The party has argued that they’re guilty of not explaining their activities well enough to cynical reporters, and for letting “allegations” against them get woven into stories about them.
Here’s the memo:
———- Forwarded message ———-
November 6, 2009
To: Executive Committee
Fr: Bob Master and Sam Williams, Co-Chairs
Dan Cantor, Executive Director
Re: Retention of Skadden Arps
The Working Families Party is committed to ensuring that our work continues to comply with both the spirit and letter of New York City’s Campaign Finance Law as well as all relevant state and federal election laws, tax and not-for-profit corporation laws. In reviewing our work over the course of the just-completed election cycle and years past, we are confident that we have done so.
In recent months, concerns have been raised about the relationship between the Working Families Party (WFP), the Working Families Organization (WFO) and Data & Field Services (DFS) as well as our compliance with the regulations of the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB).
As you know, it is extremely common that different organizations organized pursuant to different sets of laws and to achieve different purposes co-exist – often in the same space with overlapping staff working closely together in advancing their various missions. For example:
NARAL Pro-Choice America 501 c4, NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC, and NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation 501 c3 Center for American Progress Action Fund c(4), The Center for American Progress (c3);
Americans for the Arts Action Fund c(4), Americans for the Arts Action Fund PAC, Americans for the Arts c(3) In the case of the Sierra Club and the AARP, their organizational partners include corporations that are not set up as not-for-profits – for example: Sierra Club Green Home and AARP Services Inc.
Just like the organizations listed above, we keep careful records to ensure that WFP, WFO and Data & Field Services each pay their own salary, benefit and other costs. WFO and WFP resources are used only to advance purposes that comply with the relevant election, tax and not-for-profit corporation law.
Questions have also been asked about Data & Field Service’s compliance with the rules of the New York City Campaign Finance Board. Media reports and one lawsuit have charged us with the seemingly mutually exclusive offenses of, on the one hand, improperly subsidizing candidates with below market services while on the other hand gouging them in exchange for our endorsement. (See “POLITICAL PAY ‘DIRT’” New York Post Aug. 19 and “Working Families ‘scam’ to boost pals” New York Post October 27).
Data & Field Services charges market rates to candidates who engage its services. All candidates participating in the New York City Campaign Finance Board system have provided their contracts to the CFB according to its rules and in all instances the CFB released all eligible matching funds to candidates who contracted with DFS. v It has always been our intent to engage in a thorough post-election analysis of our structure. In an effort to ensure maximum transparency and ongoing adherence to the highest legal and ethical standards, we approached the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom in September to conduct a thorough review of the structure and relationship between the WFP, WFO and DFS, the status of our compliance with all relevant election, tax, and not-for-profit corporation law, including the regulations of the New York City Campaign Finance Board. We agreed Skadden would get started once the election season had passed. This review will be led by the Honorable Judith Kaye, former Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals.
Now that Election Day is behind us, the firm will begin that review and recommend any necessary changes, improvements or modifications that Judge Kaye and her colleagues believe necessary to ensure maximum transparency and continued adherence to the highest legal and ethical standards. ###