City Campaign Finance System Charts Path—and Highlights Challenges—for State Reform
Recent City Council legislation sponsored by Councilmember Ben Kallos also brought up percentage of the spending limit that can be publicly funded to 88.89 percent, meaning that a candidate only needs to raise 11.11 percent in match-eligible private contributions in order to max out the spending limit.
When it comes to getting big money out of politics to level the playing field, a clear victory can be seen in the 2019 public advocate special election — the first with an 8:1 match on small donations. The race attracted a wide range of contenders, with 11 of the 17 candidates receiving matching funds and all but one opting for the higher match (there were two options in this election). Together, they received $7,178,120, accounting for more than 72.25 percent of the funding in the race, according to Kallos’ office and the CFB respectively.
The high public match also seemed to encourage candidates to seek out small donations, with contributions of $250 and under making up 93.82 percent of donations and 60.78 percent of the private money raised. Compare that with the last competitive public advocate election in 2013 in which small contributions made up only one-quarter of the private money raised, according to Kallos’ office. In the 2019 special election, the most common donation was just $10, according to the CFB.