Seems like you can’t walk down an Albany sidewalk without stumbling over a lawmaker charged with graft these days, but the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) put out a report yesterday that shows how widely the system is failing.
According to the report, New York state lawmakers have violated campaign finance law 103,805 times since January 2011. Most of the violations are minor–including missing dates on disclosure reports to the New York State Board of elections, missing addresses, and wrong codes–but show that if a lawmaker were up to something more sinister, it’d be nearly impossible to pinpoint because of all the holes in recordkeeping, said NYPIRG research coordinator Bill Mahoney.
“There are probably many more problems that don’t get caught simply because the filing system is such a mess,” Mahoney said in a press conference.
NYPIRG also discovered that 278 corporations gave over the $5,000 legal limit in campaign contributions. Koch Industries, Inc., in just one example, gave 10 times that amount to the Suffolk County Conservative Chairman’s Club in 2012.
The report argues that sloppiness with which data is filed also makes it difficult to perform any kind of auditing. Candidates who pay themselves from campaign committee contributions but fail to disclose what they’re paying for, “could pocket the money and buy themselves a vacation,” Mahoney tells the Voice.
“It just shows how it’s nearly impossible to catch some of these bigger scandals,” he says.
Indeed, state Senator Pedro Espada and Assemblyman William Boyland were two of the biggest offenders for failing to submit disclosure forms, according to the report. And while New York City’s Campaign Finance Board regularly imposes penalties and audits, the state system’s Board of Elections has no enforcement investigators.
You can read the entire report of all the shenanigans here.
(h/t Times Union)