New York City Council Header
File #: Res 0646-2011    Version: * Name: Authorizing the Council to join in an amicus brief to be filed with the US Supreme Court in support of the Respondents in the litigation captioned McComish v. Bennett.
Type: Resolution Status: Adopted
Committee: Committee on Governmental Operations
On agenda: 2/2/2011
Enactment date: Law number:
Title: Resolution authorizing the Council to join in an amicus brief to be filed with the United States Supreme Court in support of the Respondents in the litigation captioned McComish v. Bennett, for the purpose of supporting the Respondents’ position that the Court should uphold the trigger funds provision of Arizona’s campaign finance law.
Sponsors: Gale A. Brewer, Christine C. Quinn, Daniel Dromm , Fernando Cabrera , Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Letitia James, G. Oliver Koppell, Brad S. Lander, Rosie Mendez, Jumaane D. Williams, Ydanis A. Rodriguez, James F. Gennaro, Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., James G. Van Bramer, Robert Jackson, Sara M. Gonzalez, Diana Reyna, Daniel R. Garodnick, David G. Greenfield
Council Member Sponsors: 19
Attachments: 1. Committee Report 2/11/11, 2. Hearing Testimony 2/11/11, 3. Hearing Transcript 2/11/11, 4. Committee Report 2/14/11, 5. Hearing Transcript 2/14/11, 6. Hearing Transcript - Stated Meeting 2-16-11
Res. No. 646
 
Resolution authorizing the Council to join in an amicus brief to be filed with the United States Supreme Court in support of the Respondents in the litigation captioned McComish v. Bennett, for the purpose of supporting the Respondents' position that the Court should uphold the trigger funds provision of Arizona's campaign finance law.
 
By Council Member Brewer, The Speaker (Council Member Quinn) and Council Members Dromm, Cabrera, Ferreras, James, Koppell, Lander, Mendez, Williams, Rodriguez, Gennaro, Recchia Jr., Van Bramer, Jackson, Gonzalez, Reyna, Garodnick and Greenfield
 
Whereas, New York City's Campaign Finance Act (the "Act") constitutes one of the nation's most robust public campaign financing systems; and
Whereas, The Act amplifies the impact of New Yorkers' small contributions by matching them with public funds, reducing the possibility and the perception of corruption associated with large contributions; and
Whereas, The Act also contains trigger funds provisions, located in Administrative Code Sections 3-706(3)(a) and (b), which provide for additional funds for participating candidates facing non-participating opponents who spend above a certain percentage of the participating candidates' expenditure limit; and
Whereas, By giving candidates assurance that they will, in competitive races, have enough funds to run viable campaigns, trigger funds encourage participation in the public-funding system, thereby reducing the potential for corruption while increasing the amount of speech in New York City campaigns; and
Whereas, In 1998, after seeing state legislators caught on tape exchanging campaign contributions for legislative votes, Arizona passed the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Act; and
Whereas, Arizona's law also contains a trigger funds provision, A.R.S. § 16-952, which operates as follows: Initially, publicly-funded candidates receive a base grant equal to one-third of the maximum per-candidate funding; and, if a traditionally-funded opponent's expenditures exceed that amount, or if the publicly-funded candidate is targeted by independent expenditures, the publicly-funded candidate receives additional funds up to 200% of the amount of the initial grant; and
Whereas, Section 16-952 was challenged by two lawsuits, McComish v. Bennett and Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, which have been consolidated into a single case; and
Whereas, The plaintiffs allege that Section 16-952 deters and penalizes free speech in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution; however the defendants argue that the provision does not burden the speech of non-participating candidates but rather, by encouraging candidates to participate in public financing, is substantially related to the State's important interest in reducing quid pro quo political corruption; and  
Whereas, On January 20, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver struck down the provision and issued an injunction against it; and
Whereas, The Citizens Clean Elections Commission appealed this decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed Judge Silver's decision in May 2010 and declared the trigger provision constitutional; and
Whereas, On November 29, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari, agreeing to hear the appeal of the Ninth Circuit's decision; and
Whereas, The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral argument in McComish v. Bennett on March 28, 2011; and
Whereas, The Corporation Counsel for New York City is filing a brief as amicus curiae with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Arizona's trigger funds provision; and
Whereas, While there are differences between Arizona's trigger funds provision and the trigger provisions of the New York City Campaign Finance Act, the Council supports Section 16-952 as reasonably advancing the government's interest in avoiding corruption in campaign finance activities; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York is authorized to join in an amicus brief to be filed with the United States Supreme Court in support of the Respondents in the litigation captioned McComish v. Bennett, for the purpose of supporting the Respondents' position that the Court should uphold the trigger funds provision of Arizona's campaign finance law.
 
LGA
LS# 2026
1.25.11