Proposed Changes to CFB's rules related to contributions, loans, and expenditures, and the Voter Guide
Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments
Explanation, Basis, and Purpose
The Board is proposing amendments to the Board Rules in compliance with Section 1043 of the New York City Charter and under the authority vested in the Board under Chapter 46 of the New York City Charter and under the Act (including Section 3-708(8) of the New York City Administrative Code).
These proposed amendments would:
· Clarify the method by which contributions, loans, and expenditures are calculated for purposes of daily pre-election disclosure requirements;
· Require that political contributions in excess of $99 made from a candidate’s personal funds be reported to the Board as campaign expenditures;
· Remove the “bonus” provisions, which provided additional public funds to candidates whose opponents spent in excess of a certain threshold;
· Establish the procedures and requirements regarding the video edition of the Board’s Voter Guide;
· Clarify the procedures and requirements regarding the print edition of the Board’s Voter Guide; and
· Repeal chapter 2 of Title 71 of the Rules of the City of New York, which governs the production of the video edition of the Voter Guide by the now-defunct Voter Assistance Commission, which was reconstituted within the Board as the Voter Assistance Advisory Committee.
Expenditure Limit Relief [Section 1-08(e)]
The Board proposes to move expenditure limit relief provisions from Board Rules 5-01 to a new subdivision 1-08(e), with minor, non-substantive changes made to the text. The expenditure limit relief provisions increase the spending limit for candidates participating in the Campaign Finance Program (“participating candidates”) opposed by non- participants who have raised or spent more than half the applicable expenditure limit. If a non-participant raises or spends more than three times the expenditure limit, limits on opponents participating in this program will be eliminated entirely. These provisions reduce the burden imposed by the Campaign Finance Program’s expenditure limits on participants whose opponents are not bound by such limits. The provisions are being moved because the remainder of Board Rule 5-01(a)(5) is being repealed.
Daily Disclosures During Two Weeks Preceding the Election [Section 3-02(e)]
During the two weeks preceding an election, candidates must report contributions, loans, or expenditures above a certain amount to the Board within 24 hours in a daily disclosure. After a review of its procedures, the Board determined that it was necessary to resolve potential ambiguities regarding how dollar amounts are calculated for the purpose of this rule. Therefore, this Rule is amended to clarify that 1) contributions and loans received from a single source, and 2) expenditures made to a single recipient, will be aggregated for purposes of determining whether a daily disclosure must be made.
Contributions to Political Committees [Section 3-03(e)(5)]
This Rule codifies Final Board Determinations 2009-1 and 2012-1, stating that political contributions in excess of $99 made with a candidate’s personal funds are considered campaign expenditures by that candidate, and must be reported as such.
Bonus Determinations [Section 5-01(a)(5)]
Board Rule 5-01(a)(5) is repealed. Board Rules 5-01(a)(5)(iii) and (vi), which provided for the granting of additional public funds to participating candidates whose opponents had received or spent above a certain threshold, are deleted pursuant to Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, 131 S. Ct. 2806 (2011), in which the Supreme Court held that granting additional funds to a candidate based on the spending of his or her opponent violated the opponent’s First Amendment rights.
Board Rules 5-01(a)(5)(i), (ii), (iv), and (v) are re-titled “Expenditure Limit Relief” and moved to new Board Rules 1-08(e)(i) and (ii).
Definitions Related to Voter Guide [Section 10-01]
The changes in this section and sections 10-02 and 10-03 to the rules governing the print and video editions to the Voter Guide are proposed pursuant to the 2010 Charter revision, under which the Voter Assistance Commission (VAC) was reconstituted within the Board as the Voter Assistance Advisory Committee (VAAC). Consequently, the Board’s mandate expanded to include efforts aimed at facilitating voter education and participation, including the publication of the video edition of the Voter Guide.
In this Rule, the definition of “candidate voter guide statement” is amended to become “candidate print statement” and a new definition “candidate video statement” is added as part of the new set of rules governing the video edition of the Voter Guide. The definition of “registered candidate” is added to clarify whose statements would be included in the Voter Guide. The current definitions of the terms “ballot proposal” and “election” are amended for purposes of clarification.
Contents of the Voter Guide [Section 10-02]
The proposed amendments clarify the provisions relating to the printed Voter Guide, and add new provisions concerning the online Voter Guide and candidate video statements. The printed and online Voter Guides for an election will contain any information that the Board determines to be useful for promoting public awareness of the voting process, City government, and the candidates and ballot proposals in an election. This will facilitate voter education and participation, as mandated by the 2010 Charter revision.
Both the print and video statements submitted by candidates are subject to certain restrictions in order to be included in the Voter Guides. For example, candidates may not use profanity or knowingly make false statements, nor may they wear buttons, pins, or distinctive uniforms. A script for each candidate’s video statement must be reviewed by the Board in advance of the candidate’s scheduled recording session in order to determine that the script complies with the rules. The restrictions ensure that the Voter Guides contain only information that serves the overall purpose of facilitating voter education and participation. The aesthetic restrictions are primarily for logistical purposes, to maximize the quality of the photographs and videos published as part of the Voter Guide.
Candidate print and video statements will be included in the Voter Guide only for registered candidates who satisfy the requirements set forth by the Board. If a candidate in the general election was included in the primary election Voter Guide, that candidate’s primary election statement will be included, without modification or addition, in the general election Voter Guide.
The print and online editions of the Voter Guide for a general election in which a City ballot proposal is anticipated to appear on the ballot will contain information regarding the ballot proposal. The Board will also include information about State ballot proposals in Voter Guides for a covered office or a City ballot proposal.
Voter Guide Publication and Distribution [Section 10-03]
The amendments clarify the provisions of the current rule relating to the printed Voter Guide, and add new provisions concerning the online Voter Guide and candidate video statements. The purpose of the rules regarding publication and distribution is to ensure that the Voter Guide is made as widely available as possible, in order to maximize the amount of information received by voters, including those not fluent in English.
The Board will produce an online Voter Guide in English and make the translated versions of the printed editions available online. The Board will post online the scripts provided for candidate video statements, along with translations of those scripts into Spanish and such other languages as may be required by law.
Conflicts related to the submission or public release of candidate print or video statements will be decided by the Board’s Executive Director or his or her designee, and all decisions with respect to any edition of the Voter Guide are final.
The Board retains ownership of, and distribution rights to, all Voter Guide content, including candidate statements. Unedited candidate statements may be republished or broadcast with the Board’s permission.
Rules of the City of New York, Title 71, Sections 2-01 – 2-10
These rules, which governed VAC’s production and distribution of its Video Voter Guide, are repealed, and their substance is largely incorporated into Chapter 10 of the Board Rules. This change ensures that all rules related to the Voter Guide are located in one place and are within the scope of the Board’s control, as provided by the 2010 Charter revision.