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New York Progress & Prot. PAC v. Walsh

United States District Court, S.D. New York

April 24, 2014

NEW YORK PROGRESS AND PROTECTION PAC, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES A. WALSH, et al., Defendants

For New York Progress and Protection PAC, Plaintiff: Michael Evan Rosman, Center For Individual Rights, Washington, DC; Todd R. Geremia, Jones Day (NYC), New York, NY.

For James A. Walsh, in his official capacity as Co-Chair of the New York State Board of Elections, Douglas A. Kellner, in his official capacity as Co-Chair of the New York State Board of Elections, Evelyn J. Aquila, in her official capacity as Commissioner of the New York State Board of Elections, Gregory P. Peterson, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the New York State Board of Elections, Defendants: John Michael Schwartz, LEAD ATTORNEY, State of New York Office of the Attorney General, New York, NY; Eva Lenore Dietz, Office of the New York State Attorney General, New York, NY; Joshua Benjamin Pepper, New York State Office of the Attorney General (NYC), New York, NY; Judith Naomi Vale, Office of New York State Attorney General, New York, NY; Richard Paul Dearing, New York State Office of The Attorney General, New York, NY.

For The Board of Elections in the City of New York, Defendant: Stephen Edward Kitzinger, LEAD ATTORNEY, New York City Law Depart. Office of the Corporation Counsel, New York, NY; Martin John Bowe, Jr, NYC Law Department, New York, NY.

For Frederic M. Umane, in his official capacity as President of the Board of Elections in the City of New York, Gregory C. Soumas, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Board of Elections in the City of New York, Jose Miguel Araujo, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Board of Elections in the City of New York, Naomi Barrera, in her official capacity as Commissioner of the Board of Elections in the City of New York, Julie Dent, in her official capacity as Commissioner of the Board of Elections in the City of New York, Michael Michel, in his official capacity as Commissioner of Elections in the City of New York, Simon Shamoun, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Board of Elections in the City of New York, J.P. SIPP, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Board of Elections in the City of New York, Defendants: Stephen Edward Kitzinger, LEAD ATTORNEY, New York City Law Depart. Office of the Corporation Counsel, New York, NY.

For Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate - City of New York, Amicus: Andrew G. Celli, Emery Celli, Brinckerhoff & Abady, LLP, New York, NY.

For Office of New York State Attorney General Eric. T. Schneiderman, Intervenor: John Michael Schwartz, LEAD ATTORNEY, State of New York Office of the Attorney General, New York, NY; Brian Adair Sutherland, New York State Office of the Attorney General, New York, NY; Eva Lenore Dietz, Office of the New York State Attorney General, New York, NY; Joshua Benjamin Pepper, New York State Office of the Attorney General (NYC), New York, NY; Judith Naomi Vale, Office of New York State Attorney General, New York, NY.

OPINION

Page 320

OPINION & ORDER

HONORABLE PAUL A. CROTTY, United States District Judge.

In democracies, there have to be campaigns for office--and you cannot campaign without money. " Unless only the rich are to run, the money must be raised." John T. Noonan, Jr., Bribes 621 (1984). There are choices in how the money is raised. New York City is a leader in public financing of campaigns; but it has not been without its problems. If money is to be raised, it has to come from supporters--or people who agree with the candidate. It is possible that money is given due to family relationships or friendships, or by public spirited souls who believe that campaigns are good and therefore should be supported. But those few

Page 321

instances aside, money is normally contributed in the hope--indeed the expectation--that the contribution will affect the candidate's votes or actions. That expectancy creates an implied promise to be fulfilled by the candidate once in office.

Consider some examples. First, there is the donor who gives to the candidate because the candidate is a war hero, who is bright, personable, and just the right person given the political climate and the political situation. The donor does not know the candidate, is affiliated with a different party, works in an unregulated industry, and does no business with the entity holding the election. Contrast that with a donor who wants access--perhaps an appointment to a special committee, or an overnight stay at the executive mansion. Or there is the donor who gives to the candidate because he expects the candidate to vote in a particular way on a particular issue.

When does the act of contributing to a candidate become an attempt at " corrupt" influence? And whenever and however can that line be drawn? One thing is certain: large political donations do not inspire confidence that the government in a representative democracy will do the right thing. As Justice Breyer noted in his dissenting opinion in McCutcheon v. FEC, " Corruption breaks the constitutionally necessary 'chain of communication' between the people and their representatives. . . . Where enough money calls the tune, the general public will not be heard." 1 ...


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