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HERSCHAFT v. NEW YORK CITY CAMPAIGN FINANCE BD.

December 8, 2000

ALLEN HERSCHAFT, PLAINTIFF,
V.
THE NEW YORK CITY CAMPAIGN FINANCE BOARD, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amon, U.S. District Judge.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff challenges the constitutionality of Section 3-03(c)(4)(i) of Title 52 of the Rules of the City of New York and Section 3-703(6) of New York City's Administrative Code and Charter, and requests a preliminary injunction barring the defendant New York City Campaign Finance Board (the "Campaign Finance Board") from enforcing the two provisions against him. The defendant cross-moves to dismiss plaintiffs Amended Complaint*fn1 pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated herein, plaintiffs motion for a preliminary injunction is denied and defendant's motion to dismiss is granted.

Background

Plaintiff is seeking to run as an independent candidate for the New York City Council ("City Council") from the 48th District in Brooklyn in the 2001 election. He intends to collect campaign contributions in small amounts, typically less than $10, from worshippers in various synagogues within his district and would like to receive public matching funds from defendant Campaign Finance Board.

The Campaign Finance Board is a five-member body consisting of two individuals from different political parties appointed-by the Mayor, two individuals from different political parties appointed by the Speaker of the City Council, and a chairman appointed by the Mayor in consultation with the Speaker. The Board is responsible for administering the New York City Campaign Finance Program, which was established in 1988 by the New York City Campaign Finance Act, N.Y.C. Admin. Code §§ 3-701, et seq.

Under the City's campaign finance program, candidates for Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough President, or City Council who meet certain requirements are eligible to receive public funding for their campaigns. In the 2001 election, eligible candidates can receive in public funds four times the amount they raise on their own from each contributor, up to a maximum of $1,000 in public funds per contributor. For example, if a candidate were to raise $100 from a single contributor, the City would give the candidate an additional $400.

To be eligible for these public matching funds, a candidate for City Council must, among other things, meet a threshold of at least $5,000 in contributions from New York City residents, including at least 50 contributions of $10 or more from residents of the candidate's district. N YC. Admin. Code § 3-703(2)(iv). Candidates desiring public funding are also subject to strict contribution and expenditure limitations,*fn2 and extensive record-keeping and disclosure requirements. It is these record-keeping and disclosure requirements that are at issue in this case.

Specifically, candidates must report in periodic disclosure statements to the Campaign Finance Board "the full name, residential address, occupation, employer, and business address" of each contributor, and the amount of each contribution and the date it was received. N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 3-703(6); N.Y.C. Rules, Tit. 52, § 3-03(3)(c)(1). A contributor's occupation, employer, and business address, however, need not be disclosed for any contributor whose aggregate contributions are $99 or less. N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 3-703(6); N.Y.C. Rules § 3-03 (6). Candidates are also required to maintain records of all of their contributions, including photocopies of checks or other monetary instruments and, for cash contributions, a written log containing, for each contribution, the contributor's name, residential address, contribution amount, date, and signature. N.Y.C. Rules, Tit. 52, § 4-01(a)-(b). A candidate need not separately itemize individual contributions from a single donor in his disclosure statements if those contributions total less than $99, but such un-itemized contributions are not eligible for public matching funds. N.Y.C. Rules, Tit. 52, § 3-03(c)(4)(i).

On May 9, 2000, plaintiff petitioned the Campaign Finance Board pursuant to Section 8-01 of Title 52 of the Rules, asking that it amend Section 3-03(c)(4)(i) to permit relaxed reporting rules for campaign contributions of less than $10. (Am. Comp. ¶ 3; Gordon Aff. Ex. C.) In particular, plaintiff suggested that the Campaign Finance Board match with public funds contributions of less than $10 "provided that the contributor provides his full name and signature in an affirmation that he is a resident of the City on N.Y. (one of the 5 boroughs)." (Gordon Aff. Ex. C.) On June 21, 2000, the Campaign Finance Board declined to adopt plaintiff's proposed amendment. (Am. Compl. ¶ 4; Gordon Aff. Ex. D.)

Discussion

I Defendant's Motion to Dismiss

Defendant moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A district court should only grant a motion to dismiss if "it appears beyond a reasonable doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957); accord Tarshis v. Riese Org., 211 F.3d 30, 35 (2d Cir. 2000). The Court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw inferences from those allegations in the light most favorable to plaintiff. Tarshis, 211 F.3d at 35.

In this case, the alleged constitutional violations in the Amended Complaint, whether grounded in the First or Fourth ...


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