senate Bill S5127

Relates to campaign funds for personal use

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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  • 10 / May / 2013
    • REFERRED TO ELECTIONS
  • 08 / Jan / 2014
    • REFERRED TO ELECTIONS

Summary

Relates to campaign funds for personal use.

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Bill Details

Versions:
S5127
Legislative Cycle:
2013-2014
Current Committee:
Senate Elections
Law Section:
Election Law
Laws Affected:
Amd §14-130, add §14-132, El L

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S5127

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the election law, in relation to
campaign funds for personal use

PURPOSE:

This legislation will more clearly delineate how candidates for
elected office can and cannot use their campaign funds, and establish
rules for the disposal of excess campaign funds upon the death of a
candidate.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1 amends section 14-130 of the election law, defining the
proper uses of campaign funds and delineating the improper use of
campaign funds;

Section 2 adds a new section 14-132 to the election law, delineating
when and how political committees must dispose of unused campaign
funds upon the death of a candidate or elected official.

Section 3 sets forth the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION:

This bill addresses a number of concerns with how campaign funds are
expended. Currently, New York's election law, allowing candidates to
spend campaign funds for "any lawful purpose," is among the most lax
in the nation. While spending campaign funds for personal use is
technically prohibited, the lack of any definition for what
constitutes a personal use renders the provision meaningless, This
shortcoming in the law is striking when compared to the detailed
restrictions issued by the Federal Election Commission. And when it is
combined with the provision that allows elected officials to retain
campaign funds for any use related to the holding of public office, it
gives legislators virtual carte blanche for expenditures that are, at
best, tangentially related to their campaigns and official duties.

Examples of successful, unsuccessful or former candidates using excess
campaign funds fox luxury vehicles, sky boxes, extravagant meals,
inter-national travel and home improvements have regularly appeared in
newspapers across the state. There is a growing and justifiable public
perception that campaign funds are being used to enhance the post
election lifestyles of candidates for public office. Such largesse
turns the ideal of representatives serving the public on its head.

Campaign donors have a reasonable expectation that their contributions
will be used for the candidate's election efforts and the execution of
his or her duties. They do not expect their contributions to subsidize
personal spending. This legislation addresses these abuses while
preserving elected officials' ability to fund the legitimate work of
their offices.

By adding a detailed list, both in generalities and specific examples,
to the current language, the line as to what can and cannot be done is
brightly drawn. In addition to the obvious need to spend campaign


funds on campaigns, the expanded definition makes it clear that
expenditures related to holding public office are restricted to those
costs that would not otherwise be incurred if an individual was a
private citizen.

In addition, the bill sets limits on how long campaign committees can
be maintained after the death of a candidate_ Reports of committees
continuing years after campaigns were ended are all too common. By
setting time limits and also specifying how excess funds can be
disbursed, this abuse will be eliminated.

LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect on the 60th day after becoming law.

view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  5127

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                              May 10, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced by Sens. GIPSON, ADDABBO, AVELLA, BRESLIN, GIANARIS, HOYLMAN,
  KRUEGER, O'BRIEN, SERRANO, SQUADRON, STAVISKY, STEWART-COUSINS -- read
  twice  and  ordered  printed,  and when printed to be committed to the
  Committee on Elections

AN ACT to amend the election law, in  relation  to  campaign  funds  for
  personal use

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. Section 14-130 of the election law, as added by chapter 152
of the laws of 1985, is amended to read as follows:
  S 14-130. Campaign funds for personal use. 1.  Contributions  received
by  a  candidate  or a political committee may ONLY be expended for [any
lawful purpose. Such funds shall not be converted by  any  person  to  a
personal  use  which is unrelated to a political campaign or the holding
of a public office  or  party  position]  BONA  FIDE  PURPOSES  DIRECTLY
RELATED TO EITHER:
  A. PROMOTING THE NOMINATION OR ELECTION OF A CANDIDATE; OR
  B.  PERFORMING DUTIES OF PUBLIC OFFICE OR PARTY POSITION WHICH ARE NOT
PAID FOR OR ELIGIBLE FOR REIMBURSEMENT BY THE  STATE  OR  ANY  POLITICAL
SUBDIVISION OR PRIVATE PARTY, AND ORDINARY AND NECESSARY EXPENSES RELAT-
ING TO THE HOLDING OF PUBLIC OFFICE OR PARTY POSITION.
  2.  CAMPAIGN FUNDS SHALL NOT BE CONVERTED TO PERSONAL USE, WHICH SHALL
BE DEFINED AS EXPENDITURES THAT:
  A. ARE FOR THE PERSONAL BENEFIT OF OR TO DEFRAY NORMAL LIVING EXPENSES
OF THE CANDIDATE, OFFICEHOLDER, IMMEDIATE FAMILY OR DOMESTIC PARTNER  OF
EITHER OR ANY OTHER PERSON;
  B.  ARE  USED  TO  FULFILL ANY COMMITMENT, OBLIGATION, OR EXPENSE THAT
WOULD EXIST IRRESPECTIVE OF THE CANDIDATE'S CAMPAIGN  OR  DUTIES  AS  AN
OFFICEHOLDER; OR

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD10314-04-3

S. 5127                             2

  C. ARE PUT TO ANY USE FOR WHICH THE CANDIDATE OR OFFICEHOLDER WOULD BE
REQUIRED  TO  TREAT  THE AMOUNT OF THE EXPENDITURE AS GROSS INCOME UNDER
SECTION 61 OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE CODE.
  3.  EXPENDITURES  FOR  PERSONAL  USE  SHALL  ALSO INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT
LIMITED TO, EXPENDITURES FOR:
  A. RESIDENTIAL OR HOUSEHOLD  ITEMS,  SUPPLIES,  MAINTENANCE  OR  OTHER
EXPENDITURES,  INCLUDING MORTGAGE, RENT, UTILITIES, REPAIRS, OR IMPROVE-
MENTS FOR ANY PART OF ANY PERSONAL RESIDENCE OF A CANDIDATE  OR  OFFICE-
HOLDER, HIS OR HER IMMEDIATE FAMILY OR DOMESTIC PARTNER;
  B.  RENT  OR UTILITY PAYMENTS THAT EXCEED FAIR MARKET VALUE FOR USE OF
ANY PART OF ANY NON-RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY OWNED  BY  A  CANDIDATE,  OR  A
MEMBER  OF  A  CANDIDATE'S  FAMILY OR DOMESTIC PARTNER USED FOR CAMPAIGN
PURPOSES;
  C. SALARY AND OTHER FEES FOR BONA  FIDE  SERVICES  TO  A  CAMPAIGN  OR
LEGISLATIVE  OFFICE THAT EXCEED FAIR AND REASONABLE MARKET VALUE OF SUCH
SERVICES;
  D. INTEREST OR ANY OTHER FINANCE CHARGES  FOR  MONIES  LOANED  TO  THE
CAMPAIGN  BY  THE  CANDIDATE  OR  THE SPOUSE OR DOMESTIC PARTNER OF SUCH
CANDIDATE;
  E. TUITION PAYMENTS;
  F. DUES, FEES, OR GRATUITIES AT PRIVATE CLUBS, RECREATIONAL FACILITIES
OR OTHER NONPOLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS,  UNLESS  CONNECTED  TO  A  SPECIFIC
WIDELY ATTENDED FUNDRAISING EVENT THAT TAKES PLACE ON THE ORGANIZATION'S
PREMISES;
  G.  AUTOMOBILE  PURCHASES  OR LONG TERM LEASES; SHORT TERM CAR RENTALS
AND CELLULAR EQUIPMENT AND SERVICES NOT USED  EXCLUSIVELY  FOR  CAMPAIGN
PURPOSES OR DUTIES AS AN OFFICEHOLDER;
  H. ADMISSION TO SPORTING EVENTS, CONCERTS, THEATERS, OR OTHER FORMS OF
ENTERTAINMENT,  UNLESS  PART  OF  A  SPECIFIC  CAMPAIGN  OR OFFICEHOLDER
RELATED ACTIVITY; AND
  I. PAYMENT OF ANY FINES, FEES, OR PENALTIES ASSESSED PURSUANT TO  THIS
CHAPTER.
  NOTHING  IN  THIS  SECTION  SHALL PROHIBIT A CANDIDATE FROM PURCHASING
OFFICE EQUIPMENT WITH PERSONAL FUNDS AND LEASING OR RENTING SUCH  EQUIP-
MENT  OR  PROPERTY  TO  A  COMMITTEE  WORKING WITH OR FOR THE CANDIDATE,
PROVIDED THE CANDIDATE OR THE CAMPAIGN TREASURER SIGNS A  WRITTEN  LEASE
OR  RENTAL AGREEMENT AND FILES IT WITH THE APPROPRIATE REQUIRED CAMPAIGN
FINANCIAL FILING WHICH SHALL INCLUDE THE LEASE  OR  RENTAL  PRICE  WHICH
SHALL  NOT  EXCEED THE FAIR LEASE OR RENTAL VALUE OF THE EQUIPMENT OR IN
THE AGGREGATE EXCEED THE COST OF ITS PURCHASE.
  S 2. The election law is amended by adding a  new  section  14-132  to
read as follows:
  S  14-132.  DISPOSITION  OF CAMPAIGN FUNDS. UPON THE DEATH OF A CANDI-
DATE, FORMER CANDIDATE  OR  HOLDER  OF  ELECTIVE  OFFICE,  WHO  RECEIVED
CAMPAIGN  CONTRIBUTIONS,  ALL  CONTRIBUTIONS SHALL BE DISPOSED OF WITHIN
TWELVE MONTHS OF THE DEATH OF THE CANDIDATE PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION  ONE
OF THIS SECTION.
  1.  ANY  POLITICAL  COMMITTEE REQUIRED TO DISPOSE OF FUNDS PURSUANT TO
THIS SECTION SHALL, AT THE OPTION OF THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF
THE CANDIDATE, OR THE TREASURER OF A POLITICAL COMMITTEE  FORMED  SOLELY
TO  PROMOTE  THE PASSAGE OR DEFEAT OF A BALLOT PROPOSAL, DISPOSE OF SUCH
FUNDS BY ANY OF THE FOLLOWING MEANS, OR ANY COMBINATION THEREOF:
  A. RETURNING, PRO RATA, TO EACH CONTRIBUTOR THE FUNDS  THAT  HAVE  NOT
BEEN SPENT OR OBLIGATED;

S. 5127                             3

  B.  DONATING  THE  FUNDS TO A CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION OR ORGANIZATIONS
THAT MEET THE QUALIFICATIONS OF  SECTION  501(C)  (3)  OF  THE  INTERNAL
REVENUE CODE;
  C. DONATING THE FUNDS TO THE STATE UNIVERSITY;
  D. DONATING THE FUNDS TO THE STATE'S GENERAL FUND;
  E.  TRANSFERRING  THE  FUNDS TO A POLITICAL PARTY COMMITTEE REGISTERED
WITH THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS; OR
  F. CONTRIBUTING THE FUNDS TO A CANDIDATE OR POLITICAL  COMMITTEE  SUCH
THAT THIS DOES NOT EXCEED THE LIMITS SET FORTH IN SECTION 14-114 OF THIS
ARTICLE.
  2. NO REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF A CANDIDATE OR POLITICAL COMMIT-
TEE  SHALL DISPOSE OF CAMPAIGN FUNDS BY MAKING EXPENDITURES FOR PERSONAL
USE AS DEFINED IN SECTION 14-130 OF THIS ARTICLE.
  S 3. This act shall take effect on the sixtieth  day  after  it  shall
have  become a law; provided, however, that the state board of elections
shall notify  all  registered  campaign  committees  of  the  applicable
provisions  of  this  act  within  thirty days after this act shall have
become a law.

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