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Memorandum in Support of New York Senate Bill 4729/Assembly Bill 6545

The Brennan Center and ten other organizations wrote in support of legislation in the New York state legislature that will reduce the influence of wealth in state politics.

Published: May 17, 2021

Senate Bill 4729/Assembly Bill 6545 is an important measure to further strengthen democracy in New York. It will close a notable gap that persists in the contribution limits law and thus in the framework of progressive democratic reform the Legislature has worked hard to create. This gap risks allowing candidates who come from family wealth to enjoy a special campaign advantage. 

Unlike most states, New York’s law provides separate, formula-based aggregate limits for candidates’ immediate family members. As implemented by the State Board of Elections, these individuals and their spouses can collectively give up to the aggregate family limit, or one single person can give the full family amount. This carveout, which remained in the recent amendments to the law, makes it possible for family members to contribute amounts that far exceed what donors unrelated to candidates are able to give. 

This legislation would correct this imbalance by holding all donors to a candidate to the same limits, regardless of their personal connections.