Andrew Yang Gets $3.7 Million in NYC Election Public Matching Funds
(Bloomberg) -- New York City has doled out almost $22 million in matching funds to six candidates running for mayor, breaking a record set in 2013.
Former U.S. presidential hopeful Andrew Yang collected $3.7 million in matching funds from New York City’s campaign finance board, in an installment distributed today. That’s the most among Democratic mayoral contenders, as he benefits from an influx of small contributions.
Kathryn Garcia, the city’s former sanitation commissioner, and Dianne Morales, a non-profit executive, collected about $2.3 million each. Like Yang’s, the payments were their first under the city’s public financing program and may help revitalize the campaigns of Garcia and Morales, both of whom are lagging in early polls. The program matches small-dollar individual contributions from city residents 8-to-1.
Yang holds an early lead in the polls ahead of the June 22 Democratic primary. Since December, the Campaign Finance Board has distributed about $22 million, breaking a 2013 record when the city paid more than $10.4 million to four candidates.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams leads the pack in matching funds, receiving $5.5 million with city Comptroller Scott Stringer a close second at $5.2 million, according to CFB data. Maya Wiley, a civil rights lawyer and former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, has collected $2.8 million. Former Citigroup Inc. executive Ray McGuire isn’t participating in the program.
The board deferred a decision on whether to pay public funds to Shaun Donovan, President Barack Obama’s former budget director and the city’s top housing official under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP. A spokesperson for the city’s Campaign Finance Board said it was examining whether Donovan’s campaign had violated the program’s rules.
To receive public funds, mayoral candidates must raise a minimum of $250,000 from at least 1,000 contributors from the five boroughs during each reporting period. The board said it was seeking information from the Donovan campaign and New Start NYC, a political action committee set up on his behalf. Donovan’s father has donated $2 million to the committee.
The board “has not made a determination on public funds nor on whether there has been a violation,” Frederick Schaffer, the board’s chair said in a email.
Super PACs, like New Start NYC, are prohibited from coordination with candidates’ campaigns.
Donovan’s campaign manager Brendan McPhillips said he was confident that the matter would be resolved quickly and the CFB would release eligible matching funds.
“We look forward to working with the Campaign Finance Board, because we believe that New York City’s campaign finance laws are a model for the nation,” McPhillips said in an email. “We are grateful to the thousands of New Yorkers who donated to us knowing that their hard-earned dollars would be a part of this system. We believe that in short order our matching funds will be released.”
Donovan’s campaign committee has raised $2.2 million for his run and had about $720,000 on hand as of March 15, according to campaign finance board data. He hasn’t received any matching funds yet.
Advocates of public campaign financing says it counters the political influence of wealthy individuals and special interest groups, giving grassroots candidates a fighting chance and a strong incentive to finance their campaigns by engaging with average voters.
Participants in New York City’s voluntary program agree to limit spending to about $7.3 million on the June primary and another $7.3 million on the general election in November.
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