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1999-7: Conditions for Matchable Contributions Received Between January 1998 and January 1999

Thursday, June 10, 1999

Re:Administrative Code §3-703(1) (c), (12) (a); Campaign Finance Board Rules 1-04(f) (2); 1-07(a); 1-11(b), (c); 3-02(i); 3-03(a) (2); 5-01(d) (12), (23), (24), and (25); Op. No. 1999-7.

An advisory opinion has been requested whether certain contributions received by prospective candidates for city-wide office or borough president are matchable with public funds1. Two hypothetical situations are described in which a candidate joins the Campaign Finance Program but did not previously submit to the Campaign Finance Board in a timely manner complete semi-annual disclosure statements covering the period in which the contributions at issue were received.

1. A term limited City Council member raises money under his/her City Council committee during the period of January - July 1998. That Council member does not file periodic disclosures with the Campaign Finance Board for the periods of January - July 1998, and July 1998 - January 1999. In June or July of 1999 the Council member files an “initial certification”2 and financial disclosure for city-wide or borough-wide office, and claims that contributions received during the period of January - July 1998 and July 1998 - January 1999 should be matched with public funds.

2. A State legislator raises money under his/her State legislative committee during the period of July 1998 - January 1999. That State legislator does not file an “initial certification” sic or periodic disclosure for City-wide or Borough-wide office until February 1999. The individual’s financial disclosure for City-wide or Borough-wide office claims that contributions received during the period of July 1998 - January 1999 to the State legislative committee should be matched with public funds.

New York City Administrative Code § 3-703(12) (a) requires candidates for mayor, public advocate, comptroller, and borough president to submit to the Board semi-annual disclosure statements in a contemporaneous manner before the applicable deadline for joining the Program “in order for contributions received during the time periods covered by these statements... to qualify as matchable contributions.” As implemented by Campaign Finance Board Rule 3-02(i) (2), “if a committee does not file a disclosure statement... in a complete and timely manner, any matchable contribution claims it makes or could have made in that disclosure statement shall be deemed invalid...” See also Rule 1-11(b); 3-03(a) (2). Except for candidates who ultimately run for City Council, contributions received for the 2001 elections before January 12, 2001 are not matchable unless contemporaneously reported as matchable in semi-annual disclosure statements filed in a complete and timely manner. Rule 5-01(d) (23), (24), (25); see also Advisory Opinion No. 1994-3 (August 19, 1994).

Furthermore, in the second situation, the contributions are considered to have been originally received for a State legislative election. Rule 1-04(f) (2). Regardless whether the State legislative committee is later converted into a committee for a City election campaign or whether the State legislative committee transfers the contributions to a newly created City committee, these contributions are not matchable. Rules 1-07(a); 5-01(d) (12); see also Advisory Opinion No. 1999-3 (January 7, 1999).

Because the contributions described in the first situation were not reported in the disclosure statements that were due on July 15, 1998 and January 15, 1999, the contributions do not qualify as matchable should the candidate join the Program and run for city-wide office or borough president in 2001. In the second situation, the contributions would not be matchable even if they had been reported in a timely manner in the disclosure statement that was due on January 15, 1999.

NEW YORK CITY CAMPAIGN FINANCE BOARD

1 Tom Keane, an attorney, submitted this request by letter dated May 29, 1999.

2 There is no requirement for an “initial certification.” A filer identification form must be submitted to the Campaign Finance Board before a prospective participant begins filing disclosure statements for an election cycle, but is not construed as a statement of intent to become a candidate, to run for any particular office, or to join the Program. Campaign Finance Board Rule 1-11(c). In contrast, the certification is the document a candidate files to join the Campaign Finance Program. Certifications for the 2001 elections are due by June 1, 2001. Administrative Code §3-703(1) (c).