The City Council is poised to make changes to the city's campaign finance system, including regulating nonprofit groups started by elected officials. But the Council is also preparing to consider legislation that some advocates say only benefits the lawmakers themselves. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
The City Council is already looking ahead to next year's municipal election.
Late Thursday, it released details of 14 bills to overhaul the city's campaign finance system.
One prohibits large donations from people who do business with the city to nonprofit groups founded by elected officials.
It is a clear reprimand of the mayor's now-defunct group, The Campaign for One New York, which raised thousands of dollars from people who had city contracts. The group is now the subject of a federal investigation.
"The Campaign For One New York obviously raised concerns for a lot of us, but it was operating within the law. So we want to correct the law," said City Councilman Daniel Garodnick of Manhattan.
The other bills change how the city's Campaign Finance Board oversees elections and how elected officials themselves can spend campaign cash.
"I think what we have is a package of really sensible legislation," said City Councilman Brad Lander of Brooklyn.
For instance, one bill would allow elected officials to spend campaign money on "expenditures to facilitate, support or otherwise assist in the execution or performance of the duties of public office."
"That lets you use those resources for public purposes like food at community planning and public meetings," Lander said.
Advocates have questioned whether this opens the door to more freewheeling spending reminiscent of Albany.
"I am quite concerned with the way in which these proposals came about," said Susan Lerner of Common Cause NY.
Other proposals are seemingly bureaucratic, but critics claim they have the potential to usurp the Campaign Finance Board's authority and oversight of elections.
"On first blush, a significant number of them seem to be preferential to elected officials," Lerner said.
"It's a problem when Council members are proposing to rewrite the rules that apply to their re-election campaign," said Eric Friedman of the NYC Campaign Finance Board.
As for the mayor's office, a spokesman said he has always been supportive of getting money out of politics. They say he supports the intent of these proposals and looks forward to working with the City Council.