The Top 10 Political Money Terms Everyone Should Know

Welcome to our second #TransparencyTuesday! Today we’re going to start digging into the the mechanics and specifics of our political system. In honor the Executive Committee’s presentation on Campaign Finance last week, let’s cover the basics of money in politics. Here we’ll define, in plain language, some of the most common terms in the ultra complex alphabet soup of political campaign finance.

Want a sneak peek of upcoming topics? Check out my report in the minutes of the last County Committee Executive Committee.

Have topics you’d like to see covered? Let us know on twitter or Facebook with #TransparencyTuesday

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Here are the Top 10 Political Money Terms Everyone Should Know. They’re presented in order of utility. So, number 3 will be a lot easier to understand if you know number 2.

*DISCLAIMER: To make our lawyers happy, I must disclose I am not a lawyer and nothing here should be construed as definitive or taken as legal advice. However, it is well researched.

1. Cycle
The time between the end of one election and the the end of the next one. For example, the 2016 Presidential Cycle is the time since Barack Obama was re-elected (in 2012) until the next President is elected in 2016.

It’s in this period that candidates are preparing for the next election (even as currently elected ones work to pass laws and govern the country).

2. PAC (Political Action Committee)
A PAC is nothing more than a political bank account. It’s filled by donations from people and other PACs. The amount each contributor can give is limited by campaign finance law which varies based on Federal, State and local laws.

PAC status is determined solely by raising and spending money for political purposes; such as supporting or opposing candidates, parties or ballot initiatives (referendums).Once a bank account either raises or spends enough money (based on Federal, State or local law), it becomes a PAC and must report who has contributed and what it bought.

Anyone raising or spending enough money is automatically considered a PAC and should file with their local regulator. There are specific types of PACs, with varying limitations, depending on its owners role in the political process including:

Candidate PACs
Political Party PACs
Unauthorized (i.e. some random person or group like yourself) PACs

(Next week we’ll delve into what PACs do, Super PACs, and how to start one)

3. Political Contribution
As the name implies, political contributions are money given by individuals or PACs* to candidates and other PACs. Simple!

Political contributions are capped so that only a certain amount can be given to a candidate or PAC per cycle.

*Contrary to popular belief, corporations may not give to Federal candidates. Only individuals, and PACs which get contributions from individuals, may give. State rules may be different.

However many incorporated entities, have PACs to which their employees or members give. These PACs fight for the interests of the corporation. Banks and Unions do this a lot.

4. In-Kind Contribution
Instead of giving money, people can give other things of value to politicians and PACs. This can be office space, food, a website, a mailing list – whatever it is, the market value of this good/service must be counted towards the individual or PACs contribution limit.

Notably, volunteer time, volunteer commuting costs and homemade items do not count as in-kind contributions.

5. Contribution Limit
The maximum value an individual or PAC may donate to a candidate or PAC. This may in the form of financial contributions or in-kind contributions which must be counted at the market rate.

6. Campaign Expenditure
Money spent by a Candidate Authorized Committee (A PAC specifically for a candidate’s campaign) on winning an election.

7. Independent Expenditure (IEs)
Money spent by an individual or PAC to help a candidate’s campaign without without its knowledge or input.

8. Coordinated Expenditure
Money spent by an individual or PAC to help a candidate’s campaign without with its knowledge or input. This may include sharing strategies, data and resources to amplify the work of the allied spending.

9. Electioneering Communication (Federal Only)
Any broadcast, cable or satellite communication that:

  • Refers to a clearly identified federal candidate;
  • Is publicly distributed by a television station, radio station, cable television system or satellite system for a fee (legally this means can be received by at least 50,000 people);
  • Is distributed within 60 days prior to a general election or 30 days prior to a primary election to federal office.

10. Super PAC
A PAC which makes only Independent Expenditures (see 7). These IEs may include Electioneering Communications (see 9) openly supporting or opposing specific candidates for office.

Before the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC, Corporations and Labor Unions were barred from making, or supporting PACs making, Electioneering Communications. Post Citizens United, they are allowed.

There are no Contribution Limits (see 5) for IEs and therefore for Super PACs.

Have a question? Comment? Topic idea?

Let us know on Twitter at #TransparencyTuesday. You can get me directly at @yben or @manhattandems.

You can also reach us on Facebook at facebook.com/manhattandems.

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Minutes #3! Campaign Finance Presentation

County Committee Executive Board Meeting 11/12/15

Location: RWDSU Union Headquarters; 370 Seventh Avenue at West 31st Street

I. Call To Order

II. County Leader Wright’s update

  1. Thank you for re-election to County Leader position at the last meeting
  2. MTA recently made a statement saying 2nd Ave line construction of 125th St stop would be on hold due to lack of funds
  3. Uptown East side electeds met with Tom Prendergast the afternoon of Thursday, 11/12/15
  4. On Saturday, 11/14 the Manhattan County Party is holding a Democratic Debate Watch Party in tandem with the Hillary Clinton campaign at:
  5. Stitch Bar and Lounge; 247 w 37th St.

III. Secretary Yee’s update

View full size.

IV. Presentation by Risa Sugarman, Chief Enforcement Counsel for NY State Board of Elections

For updates on the presentation, check out the tweets from @ManhattanDems below:


V. Adjournment

Have questions? Email us at manhattandems@gmail.com.

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Introducing #TransparencyTuesdays

Hi, I’m Ben Yee, the new New York County Party Secretary.

New York County is a leader in a lot of ways. Today, we’re becoming a leader in transparency. Politics in America, especially party politics can be complicated and opaque. But it’s also how our cities, states and our country are governed. So, we want to help you understand the role that you play, and how that impacts the role of the New York County Democratic Committee.

On Tuesdays we’ll be highlighting  important information on this site and posting about the decisions your representatives in the Democratic Party are making. We’ll also be posting about how the party system works, what it does and how you have a say.

Why Tuesdays? Well, I was going to do it on Sundays but #TransparencySunday doesn’t have the same ring.

So tune in on Tuesday for some information on how American parties and politics really work. And be sure to follow us at facebook.com/manhattandems and on twitter with the handle @manhattandems.

Highlighted this Tuesday:

  • We’ve started posting our minutes online! Notes from last two meetings can be viewed here. They contain the election of the County Committee Executive Board Leadership and a vote to select a Democratic Nominee for Civil Court Judge.

  • Our District Leader  and Democratic Club lists have been updated since the election last September. Don’t know your District Leader or Club? Find them and get involved!

  • We’ve been tweeting! Part of transparency is letting you know what’s happening when it’s happening. Check out what went down at the 66th Assembly District Division Meeting and Downtown Independent Democratic Clubs last Sunday. Also check out my twitter @yben for live-tweeting of important county events.

We’re just getting started. Over the coming weeks and months we hope to make our website a resource for New Yorkers to learn not just how to get involved in the Democratic Party, but why it’s so much more important than people think.

Questions or comments? Reach out to the party’s Executive Director Cathleen McCadden at manhattandems@gmail.com or me at manhattandemssecrtary@gmail.com.

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Minutes #2! Nominations for Civil Court Judge

**CORRECTION**
The original version of this post stated that there are no primaries in Judge elections so each party must internally decide who will run on their ticket as The Nominee. This is incorrect.

For Civil Court Judges there are primaries. In this case the primary winner, Tanya Kennedy was nominated by the New York County Democratic Party Judicial Convention to run as the Democrat for Supreme Court Judge. As a result, a special screening panel and vote by the the County Executive Board was convened to fill the vacancy this created on the ballot for a Democratic Civil Court nominee.

County Committee Executive Board Meeting (Special Session) 10/8/15

Location: Seafarers & International House Chapel, 123 E 15th St, New York, NY 10003

I. 6:39PM; Meeting is called order and quorum is established

II. Nominations for Civil Court Judge are opened
In the coming weeks and months we will be posting about the powers and role of the county committee. As a quick intro to Judges, one of the most important responsibilities of all party’s in New York is to nominate judges. Civil Court judges are elected and undergo a primary, but if the primary winner should drop out of the race, the County Committee must convene a special Screening Panel which suggests at least three qualified candidates for each vacancy. The County Executive Board is then tasked with selecting the replacement.

In this case the primary winner, Tanya Kennedy was nominated by the New York County Democratic Party Judicial Convention to run as the Democrat for Supreme Court Judge. As a result, a special screening panel and vote by the the County Executive Board was convened to fill the vacancy this created on the ballot for a Democratic Civil Court nominee.

A. Richard Tsai nominated to be Democratic Nominee for Civil Court Judge
Nominated by District Leader Justin Yu
Second by District Leader Sandro Sherrod

This is Richard Tsai’s third time passing the screening panel.

Richard Tsai declines the nomination and endorses Ta Tanisha James.

B. Sabrina Kraus nominated to be Democratic Nominee for Civil Court Judge
Nominated by District Leader Cory Evans
Second by District Leader Joan Pallo

This is Sabrina Kraus’ sixth time passing the screening panel. She is currently a Housing Court Judge.

Sabrina Kraus declines the nomination.

C. Ta Tanisha James to be Democratic Nominee for Civil Court Judge
Nominated by District Leader Sylvia DiPeatro
Second by Assemblyman and County Leader Keith Wright

Ta Tanisha James accepts the nomination

III. Nominations are closed.

IV. With no other nominees, Ta Tanisha James is elected Democratic Nominee for Civil Court Judge by acclamation.

V. County Party Executive Director Cathleen McCadden is wished a very happy birthday. Everyone sings.

VI. 7:05 Meeting is adjourned

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Minutes #1! Election of Executive Board Leadership

County Committee Executive Board Meeting 9/30/15

Location: Sylvia’s Also, 318 Lenox Ave, New York, NY
There was a buffet at Sylvia’s. That alone should be incentive to get involved in local politics.

I. Election of the County Executive Board Leadership
The County Committee Executive Board is comprised of District Leaders, elected directly by Democratic Primary Voters, and the County Committee Chair and Secretary, elected by the the New York County Committee.

The below positions should not be confused with the County Committee Leadership

A. Election of County Leader
Louise Dankberg nominates Keith Wright, Seconded by Alesia
No other nominations, Keith Wright is elected by acclamation.

B. Election of Executive Board Chair
Sandro nominates Louise Dankberg
No other nominations, Louise Dankberg is elected by acclamation

C. Election of Executive Board Vice Chair
Charles Buckwald nominates Tiffany Townsend
No other nominations, Tiffany Townsend is elected by acclamation

II. Adjournment

Have questions? Email us at manhattandems@gmail.com.

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2015 Civil Court Independent Screening Panel Report

On September 21, 2015, an Independent Civil Court Screening Panel met and began the process of screening candidates for the nomination of the Democratic Party for the 1st Judicial District Civil Court position to be filled in the November 3, 2015 General Election. The following individuals were designated to the panel:

Shannon Chang Hanson, Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York
Delmas A. Costin Jr., National Employment Lawyers Association of New York
Jennifer M. Frankola, Brehon Law Society
Shirley Smith, Ph.D., NAACP – Mid-Manhattan Branch
Dawn Dapelo, Columbian Lawyers Association
Brian J. Kaszuba, New York Law School
Narciso Garcia, Dominican Bar Association
William Crosby LeGal
David Mou, Asian American Bar Association of New York
Jocelyn Jacobson, New York Women’s Bar Association

On October 1, 2015, the following highly-qualified candidates were approved by the Independent Judicial Screening Panel for consideration for the one (1) 1st Judicial District Civil Court vacancy:

Ta-Tanisha James, Esq.
Hon. Sabrina R. Kraus
Richard A. Tsai, Esq.

Thank you to the panel and its administrator, Joshua Brian Irwin, Esq. for their diligent work.

Sincerely,
Curtis Arluck and Louise Dankberg
Co-Chairs, Judiciary Committee

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2015 Civil Court Panel Announcement

2015 CIVIL COURT INDEPENDENT JUDICIAL SCREENING PANEL

The New York County Democratic Committee has announced the reconvening of the 2015 Civil Court Independent Judicial Screening Panel to report on candidates for a possible vacancy in the 1st Judicial District (New York County), which will be filled at the November 2015 general election.  The panel will be directed to report a total of no more than the three most highly qualified candidates for a single vacancy.
Candidates for the Court may obtain applications from the administrator of the panel, Mr. Joshua Brian Irwin, Esq., at  JoshuaBrianIrwin@gmail.com beginning on Wednesday, September 16th. Questions concerning this year’s panel should be directed via email to the panel administrator or the New York County Democratic Committee office at (212) 687-6540.

Please Note: The deadline for submitting completed applications is Monday, September 21st at 3:00pm.
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2015 Democratic Primary + Upcoming Events in New York County!

Upcoming Events in New York County

Village Independent Democrats 
Candles for Clemency Vigil
Saturday, September 26th, meet at 5pm
10th Avenue between 16th and 17th Streets
Contact or 212-741-2994

Congressman Jerrold Nadler
8th Annual Summer Soiree
Monday, September 21st, 6-8pm
The Frying Pan, 26th Street and Hudson River Park

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo & Assemblyman Keith Wright 
Citizens Preparedness Corps Training Program
Wednesday, September 23rd at 4pm
Harlem Hospital, 506 Malcolm X Boulevard
Register at http://prepare.ny.gov/

New York County Democratic Committee 
2015 1st Judicial District Nominating Convention
Thursday, September 24th at 6:30pm
Harlem Hospital, 506 Malcolm X Boulevard
Information: Cathleen 212-687-6540 or manhattandems@gmail.com

New York County Democratic Committee
2015 County Committee Meeting
Tuesday, September 29th
Doors open at 6pm, meeting begins promptly at 6:30pm
SVA Theater, 333 West 23rd Street between 8th & 9th Avenues
Information: Cathleen 212-687-6540 or manhattandems@gmail.com

Village Independent Democrats 
Joint Club Meeting with Chelsea Reform Democratic Club
Thursday, October 15th at 6:30pm
LGBT Center, 208 West 13th Street
Information: 212-741-2994

Frederick E. Samuels Democratic Club
9th Annual Legend Award Star Celebration
Sunday, October 25th
Alhambra Ballroom, 6th Floor, 2116 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard
Information: Ricky Davis 718-644-4277

For more information about these upcoming events, please call 212-687-6540 or send an email to manhattandems@gmail.com.
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2015 Supreme Court Independent Judicial Screening Panel Report

The following were approved by the Independent Judicial Screening Panel for consideration for the four (4) 1st Judicial District Supreme Court vacancies to be elected at the general election on November 3, 2015:

Hon. Raymond L. Bruce
Hon. Anthony Cannataro
Hon. James E. d’Auguste
Hon. Erika McDaniel Edwards
Hon. Shawn T. Kelly
Hon. Tanya P. Kennedy
Hon. Lynn R. Kotler
Hon. Gerald Lebovits
Hon. Kelly O’Neill Levy
Hon. Robert R. Reed
Hon. Verna L. Saunders
Hon. Jennifer G. Schecter

In addition, the following candidate previously qualified by an Independent Judicial Screening Panel and remains eligible for consideration:

Hon. Barbara Kapnick

Thank you to the Panel and its Administrator, Mr. Charles E. Williams III, esq. for their diligent work.

Thank you,

Curtis Arluck and Louise Dankberg
Co-Chairs, Judiciary Committee

 

 

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NYCDC Announces Screening Panel ahead of 2015 Elections

On July 14th, 2015​, the New York County Democratic Committee announced the formation of a screening panel to report on candidates for the nomination of the Democratic Party for the four​ (4​) vacancies on the New York State Supreme Court, First Judicial District (New York County), which will be filled in the November 2015​ General Election. The chief operating officer of numerous bar associations, community organizations, and law schools designated the following members to the panel, which will report the  twelve (12) “most highly qualified” candidates  for the four (4) open seats. 

  • ​Amanda Norejeko, New York Women’s Bar Association

  • Jayasri Ganapathy, South Asian Bar Association

  • Herman Steinberg,  Jewish Lawyers Guild

  • Alice Miller, NAACP

  • Tristan Loanzon,  Asian American Bar Association

  • Noam Besdin, Jewish Community Relations Council

  • Tiffany Fountain, Harlem Children’s Zone

  • William F. Ryan, Brehon Society

  • Eric Nelson, National Employment Lawyers Association of New York

  • Jeffrey Winn, City Bar Association

  • Matthew Skinner, LeGal

  • Gennaro Savastano, Columbian Lawyers Association

  • Betty Lugo, Puerto Rican Bar Association

  • ​Leslie Kelmachter, New York State Trial Lawyers Association

  • Beatrice Lors-Rouseau, New York Urban League

  • Po W. Yuen, Asian Americans for Equality

  • Miguelina Camilo, Dominican Bar Association

  • Johanna Miller, New York Civil Liberties Union

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