Though outside independent expenditure groups are playing a big role in local and citywide races this year, the success of some of these organizations is subject to interpretation, especially as the state's Moreland Commission, an official panel investigating fundraising conflicts of interest, prepares to hold its first hearing. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
It's been three years since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision paved the way for independent expenditure groups to spend unlimited funds.
This year, $120,000 was spent for mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota by the PAC New Yorkers for Proven Leadership, which was started by conservative billionaire David Koch and his wife.
NYC Is Not For Sale combined with another group to spend more than $800,000 against City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's mayoral bid.
The Teachers' Union also set up a group known as United for the Future, which spent a total of $3.3 million, including $2.7 million on the unsuccessful mayoral campaign of Bill Thompson.
In total, independent expenditure groups spent $12.7 million this primary season.
While $2.7 million was spent on TV and radio ads, $6.6 million was spent on mailings.
But some groups had a mixed success rate, like Jobs for New York, which represented real estate interests. Carlos Menchaca, for example, won his race in Brooklyn.
"We also defeated an incumbent, an incumbent that was supported by Jobs for New York, the super PAC. We beat them, and they spent $300,000 on our race," Menchaca said.
Jobs for New York spent a total of $7 million. It also backed candidates who didn't ask for their money.
"The Jobs for New York success rate was very high at 18 out of 22 races were won by candidates they supported, and they did it because they supported good jobs, expanding the middle class, creating jobs and have affordable housing," said Patrick Purcell from United Food and Commercial Workers.
"The Jobs for New York money was not determinative at all," said Susan Lerner from Common Cause NY. "Where they were backing candidates that had broad base of support, sure, their candidates won."
Critics of Jobs for New York say it proves New York City's campaign finance system encourages small donor participation.
The Moreland Commission holds its first public hearing on Tuesday.
Advocates for campaign finance reform say they are hopeful that the commission will give a strongly-worded recommendation about the implementation of reform to revive the debate in Albany, and that lawmakers will act next session.