By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bill de Blasio, public advocate and Democratic nominee for New York City mayor, has filed an amicus brief in federal court opposing a lawsuit by a newly formed political action committee to overturn limits on donations from wealthy donors.
The New York Progress and Protection PAC filed a suit in federal court challenging New York’s campaign rules that prohibit individuals from donating over $150,000 annually to political campaigns. People are “willing and able to give more than $150,000 and who are unable to do so because of the law," the PAC’s attorney, Michael Carvin, told the New York Daily News.
The PAC, established to support Republican mayoral nominee Joe Lhota, hopes that the suit will, at the very least, allow for a preliminary injunction on the current campaign finance rules, thus allowing individuals to donate more than $150,000 to Lhota’s campaign in particular.
In his amicus, de Blasio warns that any suspension of the present rules would mean that “voters will hear only the views of a few wealthy outsized spenders”—a result that is “plainly contrary to the public interest.”
Leading the financial dealings of the PAC are Craig Engle, a Washington D.C. lawyer with Republican political connections, and Shaun McCutcheon, the lead plaintiff in a pending United States Supreme Court suit brought by the Republican National Committee involving election law, has signed an affidavit vowing to give above the New York limit if an injunction is granted.
“The same forces that have been dismantling campaign finance and voter protections across the country are trying to upend elections here in New York,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause/NY.
De Blasio’s amicus filing is a continuation of his goal to enhance disclosure of independent election expenditures following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
“Our government is meant to be of, by and for the people, not just the wealthy and special interests,” said Liz Kennedy, counsel at Demos, a public policy organization. “When big money captures government, the people's priorities are left behind.”
For de Blasio, the suit is “about more than one election. It’s about defending the voices of everyday New Yorkers.”