Queens BP Race Costing Taxpayers Nearly $4 million

More than $200,000 in public matching funds were issued to the candidates for Queens Borough President yesterday, with this latest round approaching a $4 million price tag for the hotly contested race. 

The funds, dispersed by New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB), had a more than $80,000 spread between the top earner and the lowest. 

The CFB’s public matching fund program is designed to encourage campaign fundraising through smaller donations contributed by New York City residents rather than large donations from special interest groups. Under the program, candidates that opt in receive $8 in taxpayer money for every dollar they raise

Yesterday was the fifth payment of public funds to the candidates since January. In all, the city has doled out more than $3.8 million in tax dollars to the six Queens Borough President candidates during this election season.

City Councilmember Donovan Richards
Anthony Miranda

In yesterday’s payout, Council Member Donovan Richards received the most with a payment of nearly $94k in public matching funds. Anthony Miranda received the least with a payment of around $11.5k. 

Jim Quinn, the only candidate who was not a Democrat to run, did not receive a payment because he is not on the June 23 primary ballot. Quinn dropped out of the race in the end of May. 

“New York City’s public financing of campaigns democratizes our elections and rewards campaigns that attract the most grassroots support,” said Elizabeth Crowley, who received the second-highest payment in this round and whose total public matching funds come out to more than $1 million, the most out of any candidate in the Queens Borough President race.

Former City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley
City Council Member Costa Constantinides
Dao Yin

“Our campaign has been people-powered and people-funded from the start, so our support has never been measured in dollars,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides who received more than $23k in this round.

Dao Yin’s campaign manager, Aaron Foldenauer, said that Yin’s public matching fund success — which has brought in more than $29k this month —  shows the level of support Yin has within his community.  

“This demonstrates that Dao Yin has a groundswell of grassroots support and will be a strong leader to bring the diverse communities of Queens together during these difficult times,” Foldenauer said about the payment. 

The program is voluntary. If candidates running for political office in New York City opt in, they must follow a certain set of rules specific to the office to qualify to receive the public funds which includes raising a certain amount of money from a certain number of eligible contributors.

Miranda, the candidate who received the least from the June 1 payments and who has received the least amount of public funds overall, said that the CFB needs to “even the playing field to qualify,” and that the threshold specifically should be eliminated or lowered to make it easier for the average person running to receive the funds. 

“It’s a threshold that favors incumbent candidates and political machines,” he said.

According to the CFB website, a Queens Borough President candidate who wants public matching funds must receive more than 100 contributions from Queens residents totaling more than $44k. Each contributor must give between $10 and $175. If they achieve that, the city will match their eligible contributions $8-to-$1.

The breakdown by candidate: 

Constantinides received $23,381 on June 1. He’s received more than $700k in public matching funds overall. More than $97k of the nearly $300k that he received from 1,480 contributors qualified for matching funds. His average contribution size was $162.

Crowley received $59,234 on June 1. She’s received more than one million dollars in matching funds, surpassing the next highest recipient by nearly $400k. Of her nearly $670k raised from 2095 contributors, more than $172k qualified for matching funds. The average contribution size was $241. 

Miranda received just over $377k through public matching funds, the least of all the candidates. On June 1, he received $11,476. Of his nearly $85k raised from 513 contributors, almost $53k qualified for matching funds. The average contribution size was $160.

Quinn received no money on June 1 and received $440k in public funds throughout his campaign. He raised more than $91k from 855 contributors, around $65k of which qualified for matching. His average contribution size was $105.

Richards received the highest payment on June 1 — $93,760. Overall, he’s received more than $741k in public matching funds, the second-highest amount after Crowley. He raised more than $354k from 1300 contributors, more than $106k of which qualified for matching. His average donation size was $218.

Yin received $29,472 on June 1. Overall he’s received more than $407k in public matching funds. Of the more than $70k that he raised from 625 contributors, just under $54k qualified for matching funds. The average contribution was $111.

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