Common Cause Releases SuperPAC Memo to the Press

Big New York Donors Give $30.7 million to Federal SuperPACs and $8.9 million in NYS, $11.4M to Romney and $6.7M to Obama. Fair Elections only answer for New York

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NEW YORK, NY (10/15/2012)(readMedia)-- On the eve of the second Presidential debate at Hofstra University, Common Cause/NY has prepared a memo to the press outlining the top SuperPAC donors from New York as well as the top New York donors to local campaigns and committees. Unsurprisingly, there is a fair amount of overlap. These findings illustrate the impact of New York as an ATM for federal campaigns, and underline the urgent need for campaign finance reform in New York State.

"The 2012 Presidential campaign has highlighted the destructive effect of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision on our federal elections. SuperPACs have already spent more than $369 million– an unprecedented torrent of political spending that has flooded the nation's airwaves with aggressive political advertising.

The lesson must not be lost at the state level, where New York's lax campaign finance laws set it apart from the nation. Like SuperPACs, there are virtually no limits for political donations to New York State politicians and committees. Donors are free to give up to $60,800 each year to statewide candidates – a limit that can easily be avoided by using multiple LLCs – and donors can give unlimited sums to state party "housekeeping" committees. Six figure checks to New York State party committees are not uncommon. As long as politicians are accountable to the corporations, lobbyists, and wealthy individuals who finance their campaigns, they're never going to be accountable to the people who elect them," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

According to news reports published this morning, both the Romney and Obama campaigns have planned a series of fundraisers around the debate, maximizing their visit to New York.


• The 25K Club-The spreadsheet marked "Top NYS Donors" includes New York State donors who have given at least $25,000 in total to SuperPACs

• The 10K Club- The spreadsheet marked "NY SuperPAC Donors" is a more detailed accounting of all individual contributions (with dates and amounts) to SuperPACs from New Yorkers, and New York entities, that are $10,000 or higher

• $1M Club-A quarter of the nation's total SuperPac donors who give $1M or more, are New Yorkers. There are 39 nation-wide $1 million+ SuperPac donors, 10 are New Yorkers.

• 99 New Yorkers have given at $25,000 or more to SuperPACs totaling $30.7 million

• 74 out of the 99 have given on the NYS level since 2009 for a total of $8.9 million to candidates and committees.

• Industry Sectors of Big NY SuperPAC Donors:

1. 58 from Finance, mostly private equity and hedge funds, $20.7 million

2. 10 from Real Estate, $592k

3. 5 from Media, $700k

4. 3 from management consulting, $296k

5. 2 from Law; 100k

6. 2 from Insurance, 350k

Where do New Yorkers give their SuperPAC Money?

• Restore Our Future (Romney): $96.7 million raised nationwide -- $11.4M (11.8%) from NY

• American Crossroads GPS: $56.8 million raised nationwide -- $3.6M (6.3%) from NY

• Priorities USA Action (Obama): $35.6 million raised nationwide -- $6.7M (18.8%) from NY

• Majority PAC (Senate Dems): $14.6 million raised nationwide -- $2.5K (17.1%) from NY

• Club for Growth Action: $13.9 million raised nationwide -- $850K (6.1%) from NY

• House Majority PAC (Dems): $15.2 million raised nationwide – $1.6M (10.5%) from NY


Common Cause/NY is part of the Fair Elections Campaign for New York. Our agenda includes:

• Public Financing of Elections – establish a voluntary system to empower small donors by matching their contributions with public money, similar to NYC's successful system.

• Lower Contribution Limits – bring New York State's sky-high contribution limits down to reasonable levels.

• Ending Pay-to-Play – save public dollars by preventing contributions and bundling by contractors and lobbyists from influencing decisions about state business.

• Stronger Enforcement and Transparency – ensure that our laws are enforced in a fair, effective and timely manner, and that public matching funds are appropriately disbursed.