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Groundbreaking New York Donor Disclosure Reports Now Online

New York State implemented the nation’s first system of disclosure for funding sources of specified lobbying entities spending more than $50,000 per year on lobbying expenditures.

  • Kelly Williams
February 8, 2013

As part of the Public Integ­rity Act of 2011, New York State imple­men­ted the nation’s first system of disclos­ure for fund­ing sources of specified lobby­ing entit­ies spend­ing in excess of $50,000 per year on lobby­ing expendit­ures. This require­ment seeks to end the prac­tice of “black box” lobby­ing in the state – that is, expens­ive lobby­ing campaigns conduc­ted by entit­ies with names that are not read­ily recog­niz­able. 

The first reports on large donors to these types of lobby­ing campaigns, cover­ing the period July 1, 2012 through Decem­ber 31, 2012, were due on Janu­ary 15. They are now avail­able on the website of the New York State Joint Commis­sion on Public Ethics. The Commis­sion has said they did not have time to add this disclos­ure to their online filing system, so these reports are only avail­able as PDF’s for now.  So far, 54 reports are avail­able on JCOPE’s website

Although we have not been able to review all of them, it appears that the new disclos­ure law will serve its inten­ded purpose of provid­ing the public, the media, and poli­cy­makers with better inform­a­tion about who funds the state’s large lobby­ing campaigns. It takes time for every­one to adjust to new disclos­ure require­ments. We anti­cip­ate an analysis will reveal more once we have an entire year of source fund­ing disclos­ures to look at. We espe­cially note that the report­ing period for the disclos­ure reports due on Janu­ary 15 did not include the regu­lar legis­lat­ive session.

Moving forward, the Commis­sion may want to ask whether addi­tional disclos­ures are neces­sary when, for example, a source of repor­ted funds has the same street address as the client filer (we noticed one such instance in our prelim­in­ary review of the reports) or all sources consist of unre­cog­niz­able entit­ies such as LLC’s.

The Bren­nan Center’s formal comments to JCOPE on the new regu­la­tions are avail­able here.

Photo by JCOPE.