New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Charter Revision, Final Ballot Language Adopted

“It’s up to New Yorkers to vote big money out of politics this November. Democracy in New York City will finally get better if passed by reducing contribution limits and making small dollars more valuable by matching more of them with a greater multiplier. Increasing public money in elections from just over half to 75% will dramatically decrease the amount of big money Mayoral candidates need to raise in unmatchable contributions from $2.6 million down to just over $1 million,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, whose proposals were included in the Commission’s adopted ballot initiative. “The 2018 Charter Revision Commission did extensive outreach in all five boroughs in-person, by phone, and even by Twitter, and today’s vote is evidence that they listened to the people of this great city. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and the Commission for getting ‘around politics as usual’ to put these necessary campaign finance reforms on the ballot for the people to make real lasting change.”  

Background info:

Council Member Ben Kallos has been advocating for more public dollars in campaigns since before he was elected, as Executive Director of New Roosevelt Initiative, as a candidate for City Council. As a Council Member he Chaired the Committee on Governmental Operations in part to author, introduce and hold a hearing on Int.1130 for full public matching. Full public matching gained the support of Council Members Lander, Cabrera, Powers and Demos, Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee, Freinds of the Earth, Historic District Council, Make the Road, Common Cause, Brenan Center for Justice, Campaign Finance Institute. In 2018, Council Member Ben Kallos re-introduced full public matching as Int.732. He and allies at Reinvent Albany,Citizens Action Network,Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign, New Kings Democrats, Tenants & Neighbors, New York Working Families Party, Strong Economy For All, Women's City Club of New York, Street Vendor Project testified in person before the Charter Revision Commission on July 23rd, 2018, June 19, 2018, and even called into the tele-townhall on August 9, testifying in favor of:

The three most important reforms for this Charter Revision Commission are:

  1. Get Big Money Out of New York City Politics – of all the options presented there is only one way that will actually get big money out of New York City politics and that is by matching every small dollar contribution with public dollars. Anything less than matching every small dollar will leave an incentive to seek and accept large dollar contributions that at worst have a corrupting influence and at best create the appearance of impropriety.
  2. Term Limits for Community Boards – as we seek to empower Community Boards, term limits are necessary to ensure that these bodies reflect their communities and create a culture of getting things done and foster mentoring and the passing on of institutional memory.
  3. Binding Land Use Powers for Community Boards and Borough Presidents – the Community Boards along with their Borough Board and their Council Member or Borough President must be able to initiate Uniform Land Use Review Procedures (ULURP) completely funded by the City or with a triple no have a veto.

Please note that any reforms to the Community Boards are meaningless without full public matching, as those appointed will still answer to their Council Members and Borough President, whom without it may still have to answer to big moneyed donors and special interests.

Get Big Money Out of New York City Politics

Support Match Every Dollar with a Full Public Match – increase the public match from 55% to match every small dollar (approximately 85% of the spending limit).

Support Lower Dollars Matched and Increase Multiplier – reduce the matching of only the first $175 to $100 of a contribution from a city resident with the matching rate increased from 6 to 1 to 10 to 1 for a total of $1,100.

Support Lower Contribution Limits – lower contribution limits to $2,000 for citywide and $1000 for borough and City Council because you should not be able to give more to the Mayor than the President.

New Stop Matching Big Dollar Contributions  Stop matching big donations over $175–ideally lowered to $100–with public dollars and force big money candidates to actually solicit small dollars from residents if they want public matching funds.

New Eliminate War Chests and Kill All the Zombie Committees – bring back prohibitions against non-participant war chests by repealing Local Law 189 of 2016 and requiring candidates in New York City to have only one authorized committee at a time with any remaining funds paid to the city after each election.

  • Lower Contribution Limits by More than Half - lower limits citywide from $5,100 to $2,000, boroughwide from $3,950 to $1,500 and for City Council from $2,850 to $1,000.
  • Make Small Dollars More Valuable - every small dollar below $250 for citywide and $175 for all other will go from being matched with public taxpayer dollars at a rate of 6 to a rate of 8.
  • Match More Small Dollars - only a little more than half of small dollars are matched, requiring candidates to seek millions in big dollars from special interests to fill a gap that can be smaller by matching 75%.
  • Improve Community Representation - Community Board members would have term limits of 8 years, expert Urban Planners, and a standardized online application and reporting on applicants and existing members.

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