CFB Releases $3.7 Million in Public Funds to Queens Races


Campaign finance officials announced Tuesday, Feb. 16, that approximately $3.7 million in taxpayer funds will be headed to candidates across Queens in the latest round of public matching funds.

Eight city council candidates across the borough maxed out their public contribution limits, and will receive $160,444 dollars in public funds, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB).

City Council candidates John Choe in District 20, Linda Lee in District 23, Amit S. Bagga in District 26, Jason Clark, and James J. Johnson in District 27, David Aronov in District 29, City Councilmember Robert F. Holden in District 30 and Kaled Alamarie in District 32 all received the maximum amount of funds in the latest round of dispersal. Of those candidates, only Holden is an incumbent. 

Richard Lee, a candidate in the District 19 city council race, received the least amount of public this round. Lee will be adding only $4,796 in public funds to his prior cash balance of $179,086 in his campaign account.

By far, the candidate with the most money on-hand to receive public matching funds is borough president candidate and City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, Astoria, Dutch Kills), who is term limited in his current council seat. He is the only candidate in that race to receive matching funds in the latest round of disbursements. Van Bramer will add $10,398 to his previous cash balance of $384,210.

According to the CFB, the public matching fund program is designed to make races more competitive by providing an equal opportunity to raise money for elections. The program also encourages campaigns to seek donations from New York City residents rather than from special interest groups.

The matching program can often be a boon for individual council district races. Candidates in the race to replace City Councilmember I. Daneek Miller (D-Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Queens Village, and Springfield Gardens) in District 27 received $659,237 alone in this round of payments.

The biggest single-district total in the borough, two of the five candidates in the District 27 race received the maximum amount of matching contributions possible.

After spending comparably little on his campaign in District 27, James J. Johnson had nearly $52,120 in his campaign account, the most of any candidate to hit the max contribution limit. After the funding increase, Johnson will have more than $200,000 in cash for his race.

Meanwhile, District 27 candidate Jason Clark will be given the biggest fundraising boost from the public funding. According to CFB records, Clark is estimated to only have $11,662 in cash-on-hand, after spending most of the $76,950 raised since entering the race.

Several districts across Queens received no money for their races at all, however.

Candidates in City Council races in District 21, District 24, District 28, District 3, and District 34 received no public matching funds in this round, according to CFB.

Depending on the office sought, candidates must meet a two-part threshold to qualify for the coveted public funding. City Council candidates are required to raise $5,000 total, from at least 75 residents of their district.

Qualifying candidates will then receive $8 for every eligible dollar which was raised. Eligible money is any donation from a New York City resident up to $175, so long as the candidate also meets the threshold of 75 district residents.

This ensures that candidates collect small-dollar donations from as many sources as possible, rather than relying on key donors to fund their campaign.

Across the five boroughs, the CFB has paid $37,778,768 in taxpayer dollars to support 147 candidates across the city for offices ranging from city council all the way to mayor.