Campaign Finance Board Doles Out Matching Funds, Updates on Scandal (Updated)

moneys.jpgThe city's non-profit Campaign Finance Board has said it will dole out just over half a million dollars in matching funds to 42 candidates tomorrow morning -- the second-to-last financial package the candidates will receive before the September 15 primary election.

Set to take in some of the largest bundles are: city council incumbents Leticia James of Fort Greene ($63,091) and Inez Dickens of Harlem ($62,854), and comptroller hopefuls David Yassky ($41,125) and Melinda Katz ($33,060).

Raking in the most funding this go round is a veteran candidate who has never won a major race; Yudelka Tapia, a Dominican-American, who is running against incumbent Maria Baez for a council seat in the Bronx. Tapia, a single mom who works as a city auditor, received $72,721. Baez has already received around $70,000 in matching funds.

With the money being distributed and only a short time to spend it, we can expect to see a flood of advertisements and pamphlets dotted around our neighborhoods over the next two weeks (Which is probably good, because up until about a month ago, it would've been hard to tell that we're in the midst of a citywide election)...

The Campaign Finance Board also gave an update on the for-profit political consulting scandal first reported by City Hall News: Over the past month, serious questions have arisen as to whether candidates who have paid for a for-profit political "consulting" service known as Data and Field Services, received undisclosed gifts from the Working Families Party or unfair discounts.

Data and Field Services, as the Campaign Finance Board announced for the first time today, is essentially a branch of the Working Families Party. Candidates such as would-be Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who have received public funds, paid thousands of dollars to the company to provide things like voter roll lists and pamphlets. But the company has offered these services at what might be considered well-below-market rate, compared to what other candidates are paying for them elsewhere.

Moreover, the candidates are obligated to disclose whether some of the services are coming from the Working Families Party itself (something we have reason to believe the Campaign Finance Board is trying to discover). While the Campaign Finance Board restated that thus far no wrongdoing has been uncovered, we know that opposition candidates have filed complaints and presume they are being investigated for possible campaign finance violations.

Candice M. Giove previously reported here on a similar funding issue involving "non-profit election consulting firm" Grassroots Initiative.

How matching funds work: For candidates who agree to abide by strict spending limits, the Campaign Finance Board matches each dollar a New York City resident gives, up to $175 per contributor, with six dollars in public funds, for a maximum of $1,050 in public funds per contributor. The maximum payment for council candidates is $88,500.

Mayor Bloomberg, Bill Thompson, Christine Quinn and other notable candidates have declined public funds.

Update: The Campaign Finance Board is a city agency, not a non-profit as originally reported.

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