To make sure your contribution will be eligible for matching funds, check these Do’s and Don’ts. If you have more questions about the Program, our check out our FAQs answers the most commonly asked questions.
Ready to run for office and join the Program? Join the Matching Funds Program today.
The Program is designed to encourage New Yorkers to participate in their city elections. While candidates and their campaigns are responsible for following the rules, here are some quick tips to ensure that your contributions, and the candidates you support, comply with the law.
|Contributor Do’s and Don’ts
- What is the Campaign Finance Program?
New York City’s voluntary Campaign Finance Program provides public matching funds to candidates running for city office who qualify and agree to abide by strictly enforced spending limits.
All candidates for these offices, regardless of their participation status, must adhere to contribution limits and disclose exactly where contributions come from and how their funds are spent. This information is audited and made available to the public through the CFB’s Follow the Money | NYC portal.
- How does a candidate get public matching funds?
Program participants may be eligible to have contributions from individual New York City residents matched with taxpayer dollars. The Program matches each dollar a New York City resident gives, up to $250 per contributor, with up to $8 in public funds, for a maximum of $2,000 in public funds per contributor. The amount matched per contributor and the matching rate varies depending on the office the candidate is seeking.
To qualify for public funds, candidates must be in compliance with all Program requirements and meet a two-part financial threshold that demonstrates a basic level of community support. Candidates must also appear on the ballot, and have an opponent on the ballot to be eligible for public funds.
Candidates who receive an early public funds payment may be required to return public funds if they:
- Terminate their candidacies prior to the petitioning period;
- Fail to get on the ballot in the primary and/or general election;
- Fail to gather and submit petitions; or
- Eventually do not face opposition on the ballot.
- What do campaigns spend taxpayer money on?
The law allows a candidate to spend public funds only on purposes that directly help their campaigns. These can include campaign-related literature, compliance, petitions, mailings, election worker wages, postage, professional services (i.e., consultants), printing, and other uses that may benefit their candidacy.
- How does the CFB monitor campaign spending and fundraising?
The Campaign Finance Program requires candidates to abide by strict rules, which necessitate diligent and conscientious record keeping and reporting. Every campaign is audited by the CFB to ensure that they correctly disclose all financial activity. Campaigns that receive public funds are given extra attention to ensure that the public’s tax dollars were used appropriately. In some cases, failure to keep proper records or respond adequately to requests for information during the audit process may cause the CFB to assess penalties or require that public funds be returned.
- Does the CFB offer assistance to help campaigns understand the rules of the Program?
The CFB’s Candidate Services staff is available to answer questions campaigns have about the Program and assist candidates in complying with the Board Rules. In addition, we provide trainings on compliance and in C-SMART (Candidate Software for Managing and Reporting Transactions).
- Do candidates who decide not to participate in the Program have the same requirements?
All campaigns, whether or not they join the Program, are required to disclose their financial activity to the CFB. In addition, all candidates must adhere to strict contribution limits and to the CFB’s ban on contributions from corporations, LLCs, and partnerships. However, nonparticipating candidates are not eligible to receive public funds and are not subject to the CFB’s expenditure limits.
- Can a candidate in the Program spend their own money on a campaign?
The Supreme Court has ruled that mandatory spending restrictions on self-funded candidates are unconstitutional. Candidates who join the voluntary public matching funds program, however, may give their own campaign three times the individual contribution limit.
- Where can I find information about campaign contributions and spending?
Information on campaign contributions and spending is available via the CFB’s Follow the Money | NYC portal. Information contained in Follow the Money | NYC includes:
- the name of each contributor and the amount of each contribution
- contributors’ occupation and employer
- information about intermediaries
- how and where campaigns spend money
Note: Although campaigns are required to collect and report each contributor’s address, the CFB does not make this information available to the public.
- What is an “intermediary” or “bundler”?
An intermediary, also known as a “bundler”, is an individual who solicits, collects, or delivers campaign donations from multiple contributors. Campaigns are required to disclose their intermediaries and the contributions they raised. Information on intermediaries is available in Follow the Money | NYC.
- Is information on penalties made public?
Penalties must be approved by the Board in public session, and information is released on penalty determinations after they are made. Each campaign’s final audit report, including any determination of penalties, is made available online as they are completed. The CFB also publishes a list of candidates with outstanding debts to the Board, including penalties assessed for violations of the Act and public funds repayment obligations.
- Who is prohibited from contributing to a candidate?
Contributions from corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), or limited liability partnerships (LLPs) are prohibited. Contributions from political committees that are not registered with the CFB are also prohibited.
Candidates may accept contributions from individuals who reside outside of New York City, political committees registered with the CFB, unions, or non-incorporated businesses, as long as they conform to the individual contribution limits. These are not matched with public funds.
Contributions from individuals that do business with the city are strictly limited. These contributions are not matched with public funds, nor do they count toward the threshold requirements for participants in the Program.
- What if I have a question that has not been answered?
Please contact the CFB and we will do our best to assist you.