Charities Give to State Campaigns, Despite Law
Mr. Crinnin called his group’s contribution to Mr. Magnarelli “an honest mistake.” After the assemblyman sponsored a $10,000 member item, or earmark, for the group in 2007, Mr. Crinnin received an invitation to a fund-raiser for Mr. Magnarelli, a Democrat. Mr. Crinnin said he now realized he should have paid for his ticket himself.
There have been periodic efforts to overhaul Albany’s campaign finance system, which is considered among the nation’s weakest, including a push by Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2007.
But little momentum has been generated, despite the pleas of government watchdog groups, and the issue of charities giving to lawmakers’ campaign accounts has not received broad attention.
At least one national campaign finance watchdog said the situation in New York appeared unique. “I’m not aware of any situation where 501 (c) 3 groups have made contributions because it so obviously does not comply with campaign finance laws,” said Fred Wertheimer, founder of Democracy 21, a government watchdog group.
Asked on Friday about the practice, a spokesman for the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, said he was “concerned” about the donations, but declined to comment further.
The office of the Senate majority leader, Malcolm A. Smith, had no immediate comment.