Brooklyn candidates get independent expenditure windfall

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Special interests have poured money into primaries for Brooklyn elections this year, hoping that their investment will pay off in candidates who will shape city policy over the next decade.

The city’s Campaign Finance Board sets strict contribution limits in city races, whether a candidate participates in its public matching funds program or not. Participating candidates can accept $2,000 individual contributions if running for citywide office, $1,500 in borough president races, and $1,000 in City Council races; for non-participants, the limits are $5,100, $3,950, and $2,850, respectively.

But deep-pocketed special interests also have the option of making “independent expenditures,” which are made independent of a candidate even if the campaign, typically TV ads or mailers, is openly supportive of said candidate. As long as the committee making the IE doesn’t coordinate with a campaign, and discloses its donors, they can spend unlimited amounts of money.

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