A smaller text A normal text A larger text

1988-2: Treatment of Equipment Expenditures Under 1988 or 1989 Expenditure Limit Rules

Thursday, December 22, 1988

An opinion has been requested whether particular campaign expenditures are covered by the dollar limitation on expenditures for the year 1988 (New York City Administrative Code §3-706 (2)) or by the dollar limitations on expenditures for primary and general elections to be held in 1989 (New York City Administrative Code §3-706(1)). Seven examples of campaign expenditures that might be made by a candidate have been described:

1) A purchase of $2,000 worth of campaign stationery, all of which is delivered to the candidate before January 1, 1989 and the complete cost of which is paid before January 1, 1989. A relatively small part of the stationery will be used during 1988, with the balance to be used during 1989.

2) A purchase of $10,000 worth of literature, all of which is delivered to the candidate before January 1, 1989 and all of which is paid for before January 1, 1989, but none of which is distributed to the public before January 1, 1989.

3) The same facts as in example #2, except that one-third of the literature is distributed to the public before January 1, 1989.

4) A purchase of $10,000 worth of paper stock, all of which is delivered to the candidate before January 1, 1989. The paper stock will be used during 1989 for the purpose of printing campaign related materials for the primary campaign.

5) A purchase of $2,000 worth of typewriters, computers, and duplicating machines, all of which are delivered and paid for before January 1, 1989. This equipment will be used during 1989.

6) A contract with a pollster to conduct a $7,000 poll. The poll has two distinct components. One is designing the questionnaire and selecting the respondents, which costs $3,000. All the work for the first component will be performed and paid for by the campaign before January 1, 1989. The second component consists of polling the respondents, analyzing the results, and preparing a report, all of which will be done during 1989. The $4,000 cost of the second component will be paid for during 1988.

7) A purchase of $1,000 worth of mailing labels delivered and paid for before January 1, 1989, but which will not be used until 1989.

The opening paragraph of Administrative Code §3-706(1) and paragraph (a) of that subdivision provide:

The following limitations apply to all expenditures made by a candidate and his or her authorized committees on or after the first day of January preceding the election for which such candidate chooses to participate in the public funding provisions of this chapter and to expenditures made at any time prior to such date for services, materials, facilities, advertising or other things of value received, rendered, published, distributed or broadcast on or after such date:

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subdivision, in each primary election and in each general election, expenditures by an eligible candidate for one of the following offices and his or her authorized committees shall not exceed the following amounts:

mayor: $3,000,000
president of the city council or comptroller: $1,750,000
borough president: $625,000
member of the city council: $60,000

(Emphasis added). Subdivision two of Administrative Code §3-706(2) provides:

The following limitations apply to all expenditures made by a candidate and his or her authorized committees in the calendar year preceding the year of the election for which such candidate chooses to participate in the public funding provisions of this chapter and to expenditures made at any time prior to such date for services, materials, facilities, advertising or other things of value received, rendered, published, distributed or broadcast in such calendar year. Such expenditures by such a candidate for one of the following offices and his or her authorized committees shall not exceed the following amounts:

mayor,
president of the city council or comptroller: $150,000
borough president: $100,000
member of the city council: $50,000

(Emphasis added).

It is the view of the Board that an expenditure for campaign matter prepared for public distribution must be attributed to the expenditure limitation in effect at the time of distribution. Expenditures for office supplies or equipment are attributed to the expenditure limitation in effect at the time the supplies or equipment are received. To the extent that the latter items may reasonably be attributed to different limitations, it is the Board's view that the candidate has an option to make a reasonable attribution. These principles are based upon the structure, legislative history, and purpose of the New York City Campaign Finance Act.

It is therefore the opinion of the Board that the expenditures in the examples described above would be covered by the §3-706(2) and §3-706(1) limitations as follows (the following paragraphs are numbered according to the number of the example to which the opinion is directed) :

1) It is reasonable to attribute the entire $2,000 expenditure to the 1988 limitation, since all the stationery was received in 1988. Alternatively, the candidate may, at his or her option, allocate the cost of the stationery distributed. Part of the stationery will then be covered by the 1988 limitation and part by the election year limitations. This response assumes that the stationery is being used for general office purposes and not as campaign literature distributed to the public.

2) The full cost of campaign literature must be attributed to the year in which it is distributed. Thus, this expense would fall under the 1989 limitations.

3) The cost must be attributed to the limitation which applies at the time of distribution. The candidate must allocate one-third of the expenditure to the 1988 limitation and two-thirds to the 1989 limitations.

4) The $10,000 expenditure for paper stock must be attributed to the 1989 limitations because the paper will be used for campaign-related materials distributed in 1989.

5) This $2,000 equipment expenditure must be attributed to the 1988 limitation since the equipment was received in 1988.

6) The pollster is paid to provide a service. In this example, $3,000 worth of the service is rendered in 1988 and $4,000 worth is rendered in 1989. Because the service has not been fully rendered in 1988, the candidate would have the option of pro-rating the service so that $3,000 is covered by the 1988 limitation and $4,000 is covered by the 1989 limitations, or attributing the full amount to the 1989 limitations (when the service is completed).

7) The candidate may reasonably attribute the $1,000 expenditure to the limitation which applies at the time the mailing labels are received (1988). Alternatively, the candidate may, at his or her option, attribute the expenditure so that it is covered by the 1989 limitations in effect at the time the labels are distributed.

As noted in Advisory Opinion No. 1988-1, dated December 2, 1988, the §3-706(2) and §3-706(1) limitations are mutually exclusive, so that an expenditure, or portion thereof, covered by the 1988 limitation is not also covered by the 1989 limitations.

NEW YORK CITY CAMPAIGN FINANCE BOARD