The New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) is fining a political consultant group for helping a well-funded anti-horse carriage group avoid contribution limits.
The board announced it is fining The Advance Group $15,000 for choreographing support for City Council candidates Laurie Cumbo and Mark Levine in concert with New Yorkers for Clean, Livable & Safe Streets (NYCLASS). The firm owes another $10,800 to the state.
The Board hit NYCLASS with a $26,000 fine in December 2014.
During the 2013 campaign, NYCLASS spent millions to aggressively back candidates who supported ending horse carriages in Central Park and attacked those who fought their cause.
The CFB found that by working for NYCLASS and Cumbo and Levine’s campaigns at the same time, Advance helped NYCLASS dodge rules limiting how much they can steer toward specific candidates.
NYCLASS is considered an “independent spender” and isn’t supposed to coordinate its spending with specific candidates.
The illegal coordination between an independent spender and a political consultant was investigated by the CFB and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
NYCLASS’ work with Advance Group during the 2013 campaign was also investigated by the FBI, which looked at whether then-candidate Bill de Blasio’s uncle steered donations through NYCLASS to secretly fund attacks on de Blasio’s chief rival, former Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
The Advance Group issued a statement insisting that the firm agreed to settle the case to avoid costly legal fees fighting the case.
“The firm has accepted an administrative fine which amounts to far less than the legal fees to continue fighting this case. We recognize that the press attention given this matter resulted from the impact The Advance Group's work had on New York City's 2013 elections,” the organization says.