A new report from the Citizens Union, a New York City-based good-government group, has found that 224 of 579 political clubs in New York have failed to register with the state Board of Elections. That means millions of dollars in contributions and expenditures have not been reported and thousands of campaign-finance reports have not been filed. Ten of the clubs are in Westchester and Rockland counties.
Since 2009, the political clubs have made more than 5,485 transactions totaling $2.27 million since 2009, according to the report. They failed to file as many as 2,318 campaign-finance reports. Not submitting the required paperwork means the state Board of Elections doesn’t know who the treasurers are for the clubs, where they keep their money or who is funding their activities, the report said.
“While Albany reeks of political corruption borne of cronyism and contemplates substantial changes to our campaign finance system, it’s clear that the most basic form of oversight – basic disclosure of political activity – is lacking,” Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, said in a statement. “That so many political clubs could raise money, make expenditures, and participate in so much political activity in support of candidates without disclosure is but one more reason why a complete overhaul of enforcement of our state’s campaign finance laws is needed.”
Sixty-seven political clubs registered with the state Board of Elections and 288 of the 579 were required to register with local boards of election because their transactions were less than $1,000 a year. The group didn’t review filings with local boards.
Citizens Union is calling on the state Board of Elections to notify the political clubs that they need to register and file the relevant campaign-finance disclosure reports. Any new law to reform the campaign-finance system should create an independent entity with adequate resources and the capability to “robustly” enforce state laws, the group said. If the 224 clubs were fined for failing to register and disclose, they could be subject to fines totaling as much as $2.51 million, Citizens Union said.
Local unregistered clubs were not among the 20 with the highest dollar value of unreported transactions that the Citizens Union examined in detail. They are all in New York City and on Long Island.
This is where local clubs rank out of 224 by total value of unreported activity:
54 — AQUEHUNG WOMENS DEMOCRATIC CLUB, YONKERS
86 — ROCKLAND COUNTY CHAIRMAN’S CLUB, WEST NYACK
87 — NEW HEMPSTEAD DEMOCRATIC CLUB
148 — WESTCHESTER COUNTY INDEPENDENCE CLUB, BRONXVILLE
155 — BLAUVELT ORANGEBURG REPUBLICAN CLUB
201 — RYE CITY REPUBLICAN CLUB
202 — POUND RIDGE WOMENS REPUBLICAN CLUB
205 — 12TH WARD REPUBLICAN CLUB, YONKERS
209 — YONKERS DEMOCRATIC CHAIRMANS CLUB
210 — LEWISBORO DEMOCRATIC CLUB, CROSS RIVER