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Daily News Coverage of Kavanagh, Squadron, Allies Call to Close LLC Loophole in Budget

New York Daily News

January 11, 2016

State Democrats Urging Gov. Cuomo to Close Campaign Cash Loophole in Next Budget Proposal

By Kenneth Lovett

ALBANY – Nearly four dozen state legislators are pushing Gov. Cuomo to use the upcoming state budget talks to close a loophole that lets companies give virtually unlimited amounts in campaign donations.

The 44 Democratic lawmakers have sent a letter to Cuomo asking that he not only include closure of the loophole in his budget proposal to be unveiled on Wednesday, but also that he “ensure that it is included in the final enacted budget.”

Under state law, corporations are prohibited from donating more than $5,000 total in a single year.

But a loophole allows companies to create unlimited amounts of limited liability corporations known as LLCs that can each give up to $150,000 in campaign donations. Often times, the LLCs have names that make it difficult to decipher who is behind the donations, “making a mockery of fairness and transparency in our campaign system,” the letter says.

Cuomo, who has greatly benefitted from the practice, and legislative Democrats have previously called for the loophole to be closed only to see the effort blocked by the Senate Republicans.

Using the leverage of the budget talks could be the best hope of getting the Republicans to move on the issue, Democratic lawmakers say.

Citing the spate of recent corruption scandals, the letter–spearheaded by Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, both Manhattan Democrats, says that “Albany cannot regain the public’s trust while unlimited sums of anonymous dollars continue to undermine people’s faith in our state government and the political process.”

Six Senate and 36 Assembly Democrats signed on to the Squadron-Kavanagh letter to Cuomo.

A Kavanagh bill to close the LLC loophole passed the Assembly with bipartisan support last year. Squadron’s efforts to at least bring the bill to the floor for an up-or-down vote were blocked by the Senate Republicans.

Cuomo has recently said closing the LLC loophole will be a priority this year. He is expected to unveil what he promised will be a “robust” set of ethics reform proposals during his joint State of the State and budget address on Wednesday.


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