Monday, May 4, 2015

New York State Board of Elections Does Not Stand With The Public

Board of Elections Confab
(The board was deadlocked 2-to-2)

How the Corrupt Loophole Works
(Bottom Line is the Bottom Line)

Major Update and Impact Regarding the Following Article (follows this update):

Today (May 4, 2015), the second of Albany's notorious "three men in a room" was arrested on corruption charges. The alarming indictment against GOP Senate Leader Dean Skelos and his son portrays a willful and shocking disregard for the conduct of the public’s business and raises serious concerns about the culture of entitlement in Albany that leads to corruption.

Noteworthy, the criminal complaint against Senator Skelos details the use of multiple LLCs controlled by a single real estate developer to make hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions to buy favors, which the BOE allows to stand... with legislative blessing, I guess???  

FYI: I signed it and I hope you will, too. It is a worthwhile citizen’s cause issue. 

This latest arrest of Sen. Skelos on the heels of Speaker Silver’s arrest underscores that the public’s best interests are in play and need to be protected - right now they are not. So, Mr. and Mrs. BOE: Are you paying attention? If so, close the damn LLC loophole and get in step with the public.

Original story is from the NY Times here... 

Now my take, which was drawn from several sources, like the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU for example here and here:

Background:  NY State Board of Elections (BOE) in 1996 created the now “infamous LLC loophole.”

That loophole allows special interest groups and very rich individuals to funnel tens of millions of dollars into political campaigns (sometimes in secret thus circumventing both contribution limits and disclosure requirements) to fit their needs.

The BOE decided to treat an LLC (“Limited Liability Company”) as human beings, rather than as corporations or partnerships, despite there being no indication that the NYS legislature ever intended that. The BOE justification was a single phrase in state law, and a short-lived federal rule. However, the federal rule was quickly changed, and the relevant state law in fact provides the Board with significant leeway to clarify. Federal rules now treat an LLC as a corporation or partnership, and in most contexts New York State law treats an LLC like other business entities, rather than as humans, so logically, there is no legal reason for the BOE to refuse to correct that error – for surely it is an error and a gross error at that.

Unfortunately, when the BOE met recently (photo above) they were split 2-2 on whether or not to eliminate that loophole. A loophole which in essence allows wealthy individual donors a way around all contribution limits to give to candidates and political committees. This is despite receiving more than 11,000 emails from supporters asking to shut it down! If the BOE won't act, it's up to the New York State Senate to act and people should let them know.

The LLC loophole is currently perfectly legal, but sadly it allows wealthy individuals to get around donation limits by starting as many LLCs as they want and funneling lots of money through them to the candidates of their choice.

For example, in 2014, one very wealthy real estate developer contributed in excess of $4.3 million to political committees through 27 different LLCs he had set up. So, is it any wonder that we see tax breaks for wealthy developers, or education policies extolled by hedge fund managers, and various forms of other kickbacks to the people funding campaigns; yes, kickbacks or quid pro quo, or “you pad my wallet, I’ll get you a bill passed.”  

Then some have the gall to brush it aside and say things like: It’s representative government; or just it’s freedom of speech; or so what, they all do; or it’s not corruption, it’s good government access, etc., etc., etc.” I now apply the famous traditional two word summary for the BOE and LLC supporters:

Büll & Shït ...

No comments: