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1989-31: Collection and Disclosure of Contribution Information

Wednesday, July 12, 1989

The New York City Campaign Finance Act requires each candidate participating in the Campaign Finance Program to designate an authorized committee (the "principal committee") to report "to the best of its knowledge" to the Board, for every contribution accepted by the candidate, "the full name, residential address, occupation, employer and business address" of each contributor and intermediary. New York City Administrative Code §3-703(6). As the Board stated in Advisory Opinion No. 1989-16, dated April 6, 1989:

The "best of knowledge" standard requires a good faith effort on the part of the candidate and the candidate's agents to obtain this additional information about each contribution accepted for an election for which the candidate is participating in the New York City Campaign Finance Program, even if the contribution was accepted before the New York City Campaign Finance Act became law on February 29, 1988. Footnote omitted. Candidates who fail to make a good faith effort to obtain this information are not eligible for public financing. Administrative Code §3-703(1) (d),(6).

The earlier opinion outlined the measures which were sufficient for demonstrating a good faith effort with respect only to contributions accepted before February 29, 1988, the day the Campaign Finance Act became law. That opinion did not, however, specifically outline measures which would demonstrate a good faith effort to obtain the required information about contributions accepted after the Act's requirements took effect (i.e., on and after February 29, 1988). The Board has therefore determined to provide additional guidance to candidates and campaign staff concerning the standards which apply to the collection and disclosure of information about "post-effective date" contributions.

Clearly, the Act requires an affirmative attempt by campaigns to request the required information from every contributor who has made a contribution on or after February 29, 1988. This attempt may be evidenced, for example, by solicitation material that requests the required information in the first instance and evidence of other "after-the-fact" inquiries of contributors who, having given contributions, are then requested to give the required information.

In addition, Campaign Finance Board Rule 408(g) requires the treasurer of the principal committee to "maintain a record of all efforts made to obtain information subject to the disclosure requirements of Section 3-703(6)..." Candidates are required to:

obtain and furnish to the Board any information it may request relating to his or her campaign expenditures or contributions and furnish such documentation and other proof of compliance with the Act as may be requested by the Board.

Administrative Code §3-703(1) (d).