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2001-9: Only Valid Matchable Contributions Can Be Used To Meet Threshold Requirements

Thursday, August 02, 2001

Re: Administrative Code §§ 3-702(3), 3-703(2)(a), (6); Campaign Finance Board Rules 3-04(a); 5-01(d); 5-02; Op. No. 2001-9.

The Campaign Finance Board (the "Board") has received a request for guidance from the Badillo campaign whether matchable contribution claims that are invalidated by the Board may nonetheless be counted towards a candidate's threshold requirement for public financing.1

In order to be eligible to receive public financing under the Act, candidates are required to demonstrate significant local support by meeting a two-part threshold. Candidates must receive "matchable contributions" in excess of a specified amount, and these contributions must come from a minimum number of contributors. See Administrative Code §3-703(2)(a).2

According to the plain language of the Act, only "matchable contributions" — a term that, as defined in the Act, does not include invalidated matchable contribution claims — can be used to meet threshold.3 Administrative Code §3-702(3) provides as follows:

The term "matchable contribution" shall mean (i) a contribution, (ii) contributions or (iii) a portion of a contribution or contributions, not greater than one thousand dollars for all covered elections held in the same calendar year, other than special elections, made by a natural person resident in the city of New York to a participating candidate which has been reported in full to the campaign finance board in accordance with subdivision six of section 3-703 by the candidate's principal committee and has been contributed on or before December thirty-first in the year of such election that may be matched by public funds in accordance with the provisions of this chapter ...4 (Emphasis added)

Thus, invalidated matchable contribution claims are not "matchable contributions" within the meaning of the Act. Therefore, they cannot be matched with public funds and cannot be used to meet the threshold requirement.

NEW YORK CITY CAMPAIGN FINANCE BOARD

1Herman Badillo addressed this issue in a letter to the Board dated July 11, 2001, and by letter of Laurence Laufer dated August 1, 2001.

2Administrative Code §3-703(2)(a) provides that "the threshold for eligibility for public funding for participating candidates in a primary or general election shall be in the case of:

(i) mayor, not less than two hundred fifty thousand dollars in matchable contributions including at least one thousand matchable contributions of ten dollars or more..."

3The Rules consistently refer to "matchable contribution claims" to distinguish them from "matchable contributions." See, e.g., Rules 3-04(a); 5-01(d); 5-02.

4Administrative Code §3-703(6) requires, inter alia, that disclosure statements "be submitted at such times and in such form as the campaign finance board shall require..."