New guidelines were issued Tuesday, requiring some lobbying organizations to disclose who they're getting their big donations from. As Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman reports, New York is the first state to pass guidelines like these.
NEW YORK STATE -- With more money being spent than ever on trying to influence state government, the Joint Commission On Public Ethics approved guidelines on Tuesday that require lobbying organizations with a specialized tax status to reveal all of their contributors who donate $5,000 or more.
“These rules are a very important development. New York is the first state to require these sorts of disclosures and the public is going to be benefitted from having more information on who is trying to influence public policy on whenever the rules start,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause New York.
But there are a few caveats with the rules. If donors fear for their safety after being revealed, they can seek an exemption. And the look back period is to July 1 of this year. That means all the money spent on expensive lobbying campaigns the most recent legislative session won't have to disclose their donors.
The Committee to Save New York, a group aligned with Governor Andrew Cuomo's fiscal goals, has spent millions backing his budget and pension plan, but refuses to release the names of its 74 donors who combined to give more than $17 million.
Lerner said, “There are two possible interpretations when to start the disclosure period. At Common Cause, we argued that one possible way to do it is to start on January 1 of 2012. Another perfectly valid way to do it would be to start on July 1 of 2012. The commission chose July 1. I think that's as valid as any other way to do it.”
The governor did push lawmakers to adopt the ethics overhaul measure in 2011 that created JCOPE and implemented greater disclosure requirements for state legislators to reveal their own outside income.