Legislator Pitched Law To Fight Straw Donations To Political Candidates
Falciglia Plans To Seek Passage Of Law In Other Municipalities
New City, NY (May 29, 2018) – Rockland County Legislator Charles Falciglia is praising members of the Airmont Village Board for passing the Citizens’ Protection Act, legislation he drafted to help fight straw donations to political candidates.
The law is designed to protect the public from being victimized by unscrupulous political candidates who may try to use average citizens as straw donors to circumvent and/or disguise campaign contributions.
A straw donation is the term used to describe donations made to political candidates by people who are actually using someone else’s money. It is against the law to donate in the name of another person.
The Airmont Village Board voted 5-0 in favor of the law. It takes effect 30 days after being received and filed by the state Secretary of State, according to the Village Clerk’s Office.
“This is good news for residents as it strengthens electoral transparency and protects against campaign corruption,” Airmont Village Mayor Philip Gigante said. “It is my hope that this type of law inspires other legislators to pass similar laws to combat corruption at all levels of government.”
Legislator Falciglia represents Airmont, Hillburn and most of Suffern in the Legislature. He has spoken often of the need to tighten campaign donation rules and subsequently worked to draft the new law.
The new law requires candidates for political office to provide a form to those who will be donating $500 or more that acknowledges they are donating their own money of their own free will. Legislator Falciglia said other municipalities that want to adopt the law can set the donation amount at a number of their choosing.
“Over the last decade, Rockland County and other Mid-Hudson Valley municipalities have seen many strange patterns of campaign contributions from individuals who hardly fit the profile of someone who can afford a large donation,” Legislator Falciglia said. “Many have never donated in their life and, suddenly, make a huge donation to a candidate they know nothing about.”
Legislator Falciglia said it is easy for the average person to find themselves in the middle of a controversy – and maybe a crime – due to such donation practices.
“Many people unwittingly become mixed up in these schemes by being misled or cajoled,” Legislator Falciglia said. “Others may be pressured or coerced into participating. Most rationale people will refuse to go along if they know it is a crime.”
An effective by-product of the law is that organizers of such schemes who are attempting to donate less than $500 to by-pass the law will have to recruit more participants to reach their donation goals. “The more people involved in any conspiracy the better for a law enforcement investigation,” Legislator Falciglia said.
He also said he believes the law is the first of its kind in the nation. He plans to seek passage of the law in other municipalities.
“Just the mere presence of this law may go a long way in curbing any thought of such a scheme,” Legislator Falciglia said. “If elected officials and candidates would just do the right thing we would not have to keep spending our time trying to counteract self-inflicted bad behavior.”