Contributions to New York’s limitless campaign accounts soared 24 percent over six years, jumping to a total of $87 million, a report today found.
New York has a porous campaign-finance system and among the highest contribution limits in the country. It also has something else: Housekeeping accounts set up by political parties that can accept a limitless amount of cash.
And the money has come pouring in, a report from Common Cause/NY found.
“They are making out like bandits under the current system,” said Susan Lerner, the group’s executive director.
Good-government groups called for a ban on so-called “soft-money” contributions as part of a broader package of campaign-finance laws being proposed at the Capitol.
Housekeeping accounts have long drawn the ire of reform groups because big-money contributors can pump an endless flow of cash into them. The money is supposed to be used only for “party-building activities,” but the law is often flouted, the groups said.
Between 1999 and 2005, donors gave nearly $47 million to the soft-money committees of the state parties and the state Legislature. It grew to $58 million over the next six years, the report said, and $87 million when all committees are included.
At the county level, the Monroe County Republican Committee received the most in the state: $4.4 million, outpacing the New York City parties. The Rochester-based construction firm The Pike Co. ranked 33rd on the list of top soft-money donors.
“That really deserves a study of its own,” Brian Paul, the report’s author, said of the Monroe County GOP. “They have a set of a few dozen donors that give huge amounts every year.”