Wednesday, August 23, 2017

NY BOE Sugarman Seeks to Rein in IDC Campaign Arms


New York Board of Elections (BOE) Chief Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman filed a Lawsuit earlier this month seeking to curb Campaign Fundraising Committees set up by the State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), Court filings show. If Sugarman is successful, the Lawsuit could have consequences for the 2018 Elections, when a number of IDC Members, who broke away from Mainline Democrats in 2011 and have aligned with Republicans, may face Primaries inspired by the Election of President Trump.

Under an arrangement struck last year, the IDC is using Campaign Accounts associated with the State Independence Party, a Minor Party with a Statewide Ballot Line, to boost its ability to Raise and Spend Money in elections. Unlike the IDC’s previous Political Action Committee (PAC), its New Party Campaign Committee can take Six-Figure Campaign Donations and Transfer Unlimited Amounts to IDC Candidates. And its Housekeeping Committee meant for Party-Building Operations could take Unlimited Sums.

The Independence Party is a Statewide Political Party that got more than 50,000 Votes on its Ballot Line for Governor in the 2014 Election, and its current enrollment as of 4/1/2017 is 442,611 Active Voters, while the breakaway IDC is not considered a Constituted Political Party under State Election Law. Before the Arrangement with the Independence Party, unlike rival Senate Democrats, the IDC could Raise and Spend far less Money through a PAC to defend its Members and Elect New Ones.

The Lawsuit asks for a Judge to dissolve the Housekeeping Account and Disallow the Unlimited Money Transfers from the Campaign Account to IDC Members. It also seeks to Freeze Donations to or Expenditures by both IDC Committees until the Housekeeping Account is closed and a Statement is filed by the IDC Reflecting that the Campaign Committee is not an Official Party Committee.

The Sugarman filing notes that IDC Leader State Sen. Jeffrey Klein is Chair of the Conference’s New Campaign Fundraising Arm, the Senate Independence Campaign Committee, and its Housekeeping Account. Klein is also an Enrolled Member of the Democratic Party.

Sugarman’s complaint in Albany County Supreme Court, however, States that Election Law specifically Requires that Party Officers of Committees, such as Klein, be Enrolled Members of that Party, including the Independence Party.
An Attorney for the Independence Party and IDC Members who are Respondents strongly pushed back on the Lawsuit.
“The Constitutional protections afforded the freedom to engage in association by the Independence Party and the Independent Democratic Conference for the advancement of beliefs and ideas through freedom of speech is a core value established by the First Amendment,” said Lawrence Mandelker. “Risa Sugarman is wrong on the facts, wrong on the law, and as with every other case she has handled this will be proven to be another unsubstantiated action on her part.”

The Fundraising arrangement with the Independence Party paid immediate dividends last year for the IDC, when it used its boosted Campaign abilities to back Marisol Alcantara, who narrowly won a Bronx Senate Seat and ended up Joining the IDC.

This is not the first time Sugarman’s Unit has investigated the IDC’s Campaign Finances. In 2016, the IDC settled with Sugarman for $27,000 over its PAC’s Activities during the 2014 Elections helping an IDC Member, Queens State Sen. Tony Avella.

How would you feel when you vote for a Candidate registered in your Party but they Caucus and Vote with another Party and lose your Parties Majority?











NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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