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Councilman Brad Lander is proposing legislation aimed at cracking down on spending by outside groups in city races. Such "independent expenditures" exploded following the Citizens United court decision, which allows near-unlimited spending, as long as the groups don’t directly co-ordinate with campaigns. Lander's plan would close a loophole that allows corporations to spend lavishly on candidates through LLCs and require mailings and similar communications to include a notice outlining who paid for them.
Of particular concern to Lander is the real estate industry-backed "Jobs 4 NY" committee. It's already spent $1.35 million - including $167,000 in support of Brooklyn Councilwoman Sara González and $110,000 to back Paul Vallone in Queens - and aims to spend $10 million citywide. The PAC supports several council incumbents who are up for re-election, which might make it difficult to pass during an election year. But even some candidates who've received its support, like Brooklyn's Laurie Combo, say it's unwelcome and support Lander's proposal.
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Mayor Bloomberg yesterday announced his plans to spend between $10 million and $15 million through a "super PAC" he will spearhead. It's named Independence USA PAC and has a goal of supporting candidates across party lines who pledge to work in a bipartisan fashion. It will spend money on highly competitive state, local and Congressional races this year and back candidates who support legalizing same-sex marriage, enacting tougher gun laws, and education reform.
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