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New York City Campaign Finance Board Rules

Chapter 7: Campaign Finance Board

Rule 7-01 Complaints and Investigations
    (a) Initiation of proceeding
    (b) Service of complaints
    (c) Contents of complaint
    (d) Initial complaint processing
    (e) Opportunity to respond to complaint
    (f) Investigation

Rule 7-02 Board Determinations
    (a) Determination that complaint lacks merit
    (b) Participant not eligible for public funds
    (c) Notice and opportunity to contest
    (d) Conciliation
    (e) Omitted
    (f) Adjudications in accordance with section 1046 of the Charter
    (g) Penalties for Disclosure Statement and Contribution Violations

Rule 7-03 Review of Contributions and Expenditures
    (a) Determination of eligibility
    (b) Generally
    (c) Facial Determinations
    (d) Petitions
    (e) Petitioner’s burden
    (f) Notice of petition
    (g) Response to the petition
    (h) Hearing
    (i) Notice of determination
    (j) New petitions
    (k) Reconsideration
    (l) Submission of false information

Rule 7-04 Advisory Opinions

Rule 7-05 Contribution and Expenditure Limit Adjustments
    (a) Adjustment of Contribution Limits
    (b) Adjustment of Expenditure Limits

Rule 7-06 Ethical Guidelines

Campaign Finance Board Rules Table of Contents


Rule 7-01 Complaints and Investigations.

(a) Initiation of proceeding. (i) A proceeding under subdivision four of §1136.1 of the Charter or under the Act may be commenced when: (1) the Board receives a written complaint sworn to or affirmed, alleging the commission or omission of acts in violation of the Charter, Act or these Rules, or (2) the Board, on its own initiative, undertakes an investigation of a possible violation of the Charter, Act or these Rules.

(ii) The following violations shall constitute infractions: (1) a limited and non-repetitive failure, not to exceed a total of three such failures, to comply with the contribution limitations or prohibitions contained in §§ 3-703(1)(f), (h), (k), and (l) of the Code, provided such contribution is promptly returned to the contributor upon notice from the Board of the acceptance of the contribution; and (2) a failure to file a complete and timely disclosure statement in a form and manner acceptable to the Board, provided such disclosure statement is promptly refiled in a form and manner acceptable to the Board, and provided, further, that this shall apply to only one disclosure statement per election cycle.

(b) Service of complaints. A complaint shall be filed by mailing it to, or by personally serving it on, the New York City Campaign Finance Board, 40 Rector Street, 7th Floor, New York, New York 10006.*

(c) Contents of complaint. A complaint shall specify times, places, and names of witnesses to the acts charged as violations of the Charter, Act or these Rules to the extent known. A complaint shall be based on personal knowledge, if possible. If a complaint is based on information and belief, the complainant shall state the source of that information and belief. Copies of all documentary evidence available to the complainant shall be attached to the complaint.

(d) Initial complaint processing. (1) Upon receipt of a complaint, the Board will review the complaint for substantial compliance with the requirements of subdivision (c), and if the complaint complies with those requirements, the Board shall within 10 days after receipt mail to each respondent notification that the complaint has been filed, and enclose a copy of the complaint.

(2) If a complaint does not comply with the requirements of subdivision (c), or the Board deems it to be facially lacking in merit, the Board shall dismiss the complaint and shall so notify the complainant.

(e) Opportunity to respond to complaint. Within 20 days from mailing by the Board of a copy of the complaint to a respondent, or within such lesser time as may be specified by the Board for complaints received less than 40 days before the election, the respondent may submit a verified answer, which may set forth reasons why the Board should dismiss the complaint. If, based upon its review of the complaint and any answer filed, the Board determines the complaint to be lacking in merit, the Board shall dismiss the complaint.

(f) Investigation. Following receipt of a complaint, or at any time, if acting on its own initiative, the Board may conduct an investigation into possible violations of the Charter, Act or these Rules. In its investigation, the Board may use its investigative powers pursuant to §3-708(5) and 3-710(1) of the Code. An investigation may include, but is not limited to, field investigations, desk and field audits, the issuance of subpoenas, the taking of sworn testimony, the issuance of document requests and interrogatories, and other methods of information gathering.

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Rule 7-02 Board Determinations.

(a) Determination that complaint lacks merit. Following an investigation, the Board may determine that a complaint is lacking in merit or that violations of the Charter, Act and these Rules have not been substantiated and dismiss the complaint or terminate the investigation.

(b) Participant not eligible for public funds. Following an investigation, the Board may make a determination that a participant is ineligible to receive public funds. In the event of a determination of ineligibility, the Board will send written notification to the participant and the participant may request reconsideration of such determination pursuant to Rule 5-02(a).

(c) Notice and opportunity to contest. If the Board has reason to believe that a violation of a law or rule over which the Board has jurisdiction has occurred, and/or that a participant must repay public funds to the Board, the Board shall notify the candidate and treasurer in writing, whether via the postal system, electronic mail, or facsimile, of the alleged violation and proposed civil penalty and/or of the amount of the alleged public funds repayment obligation. Such notice shall set forth in detail the legal basis for the Board’s reason to believe there is a violation of a law or rule over which the Board has jurisdiction and/or a repayment obligation, and shall notify the candidate and treasurer of the opportunity to submit information and documentation for the Board’s consideration within a reasonable time period to be specified in such notice, and to appear before the Board or its designee at a hearing to contest the alleged violation and proposed civil penalty and/or the alleged public funds repayment obligation. Unless specifically notified to the contrary by the Board, the opportunity to submit information and documentation described in the notice shall be the only such opportunity, and any information and documentation that is not timely received by the Board may, at the Board’s sole discretion, be disregarded. The notice shall inform the candidate and treasurer that hearings are conducted in accordance with the requirements for adjudications contained in section 1046 of the Charter unless such procedures are waived by the candidate or principal committee. Following this opportunity to submit information and documentation, consideration of any information and documentation submitted, and consideration of any appearance before the Board or its designee, the Board may determine the amount of civil penalties for any violations it determines to have occurred and/or the amount of public funds repayment obligation, and shall provide notice setting forth in detail the legal basis of the Board’s determination. If these amounts, as determined by the Board, are not paid by the payment deadline set forth in the notice, they may be sought through appropriate enforcement action or, in the case of civil penalties, by deduction from any public funds otherwise due for any election.

(d) Conciliation. (1) Upon review of respondent’s submission, or if the Board otherwise has reason to believe that a violation of a law or rule over which the Board has jurisdiction has occurred, the Board may initiate conciliation procedures. For this purpose the Board may conduct a conciliation conference. Notice of the conference shall be served on those parties whose attendance the Board considers necessary.

(2) If terms of conciliation which are satisfactory to the parties are reached, a conciliation agreement shall be signed by the parties subject to its terms and by the Board’s Executive Director, on the Board’s behalf. This agreement may require payment of appropriate civil penalties for violations as determined by the Board. If the amounts to be paid as provided for in the agreement are not paid, they may be sought through appropriate enforcement action or by deduction from any public funds otherwise due for any election. Upon execution of such an agreement, the Board shall administratively close the case. Conciliation agreements shall be binding on all parties. In the event the Board has reason to believe that terms and conditions of the agreement have not been complied with, or if new facts are brought to the Board’s attention, the Board may, in its discretion, re-open the case and/or bring an appropriate enforcement proceeding.

(3) Conciliation procedures are not part of the Board’s standard practices, but may be appropriate to address novel issues and are conducted solely at the discretion of the Board.

(e) Omitted.

(f) Adjudications in accordance with section 1046 of the Charter. (1) Adjudications pursuant to this rule shall be conducted by one or more hearing officers. The Board, at its sole discretion, may designate one or more members of the Board and/or an administrative law judge to act as hearing officers. One or more members of the Board’s staff may provide legal and procedural advice to the hearing officer and to the Board, subject to the direction of the hearing officer(s).

(2) The Board shall mail the candidate and treasurer a notice of hearing, containing a statement of the nature of the proceeding and the time and place it will be held, the legal authority and jurisdiction under which the hearing is to be held, and a short and plain statement of the matters to be adjudicated, including reference to the particular sections of the Charter, Act, and these Rules involved.

(3) The hearing officer(s) shall administer oaths, subpoena and examine witnesses, receive written and oral testimony, rule on the admissibility of evidence, and decide all other aspects of the conduct of the hearing. Findings of fact shall be based exclusively on the record of the proceeding as a whole. The hearing officer(s) shall make findings of fact and conclusions of law and shall forward a recommended final determination to the Board along with the record of the adjudication upon which the recommended determination is based. The Board may adopt, reject or modify any recommended determination.

(4) The candidate and treasurer must provide to the hearing officer(s) and Board staff a substantive written response to the notice stating the defense to the notice, at least two weeks prior to the date of the hearing.

(5) The names and contact information of all persons wishing to present testimony on the law or the facts at the hearing, including any witnesses to be examined, must be provided to the hearing officer(s) and Board staff at least five business days prior to the date of the hearing.

(6) The candidate and treasurer shall be afforded due process of law, including the opportunity to be represented by counsel, to request that a subpoena be issued, to call witnesses, to cross-examine opposing witnesses and to present oral and written arguments on the law and facts. All witnesses shall testify under oath. Adherence to formal rules of evidence is not required.

(7) Testimony and argument on the law and facts shall be presented in the following order: Board staff, witnesses called by Board staff, if any, cross-examination, the candidate and/or treasurer and/or their counsel, witnesses called by the candidate and/or treasurer and/or their counsel, and cross-examination. Each party shall be afforded an opportunity to present rebuttal testimony, if deemed appropriate by the hearing officer.

(8) No ex parte communications relating to other than ministerial matters regarding a hearing shall be received by a hearing officer, including internal agency directives not published as rules.

(9) Testimony shall be transcribed and/or recorded, and a copy of the transcript and/or recording, or any part thereof, shall be made available to any party to the hearing upon request for a reasonable price.

(10) Affidavits or affirmations submitted as evidence must be signed and under penalties of perjury. Failure of the respondent to produce at a hearing any document either requested by the Board or required to be maintained by the Board pursuant to the Act and these Rules shall lead to a rebuttable presumption that the document, if produced, would have been adverse to the respondent.

(11) The Board shall provide a written determination within 30 days of the conclusion of the hearing if conducted by the full Board or within 30 days of receipt of the report of recommendations of the hearing officer stating the basis for any assessed penalty or repayment obligation, including any findings of fact and conclusions of law, and shall notify the candidate of the commencement of the four-month period during which a special proceeding may be brought to challenge the Board’s determination pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules. Determinations made by the Board pursuant to this rule may not be appealed to the Board unless the Board specifically provides otherwise in its determination.

(g) Penalties for Disclosure Statement and Contribution Violations. The Board shall publicize staff guidelines for presumptive penalties to be recommended for the late submission of a disclosure statement, the failure to file a disclosure statement, and the acceptance of an over-the-limit or a prohibited contribution, subject to consideration of aggravating and mitigating factors that will be considered in determining the appropriate penalty assessment for the violation.

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Rule 7-03 Review of Contributions and Expenditures.

(a) Determination of eligibility. (1)  Pursuant to §3-705(6) of the Code, the Board shall determine whether a limited participant or a non-participant has spent or contracted or become obligated to spend an amount which, in the aggregate, exceeds ten thousand dollars; (2) pursuant to §3-705(7)(a) of the Code, the Board shall determine whether a candidate has spent or contracted or become obligated to spend, or received in loans or contributions, or both, an amount which, in the aggregate, exceeds one-fifth of the applicable expenditure limit for such office as provided by §3-706(1) of the Code; (3) pursuant to §3-706(3)(a) of the Code, the Board shall determine whether a non-participant has spent or contracted or become obligated to spend, or received in loans or contributions, or both, an amount which, in the aggregate, exceeds one-half the expenditure limit applicable to the participant(s) and/or limited participant(s) opposing that candidate; (4) pursuant to §3-706(3)(b) of the Code, the Board shall determine whether a non-participant has spent or contracted or become obligated to spend, or received in loans or contributions, or both, an amount which, in the aggregate, exceeds three times the expenditure limit applicable to the participant(s) and/or limited participant(s) opposing that candidate; and (5) the Board shall verify the truthfulness of any certified signed statement submitted pursuant to §3-705(7)(b) of the Code and the Board shall determine whether supporting documentation submitted pursuant to §3-705(7)(b) of the Code demonstrates the existence of the condition or conditions described in such statement.  For the purposes of making a determination pursuant to §3-705(7)(b)(1) of the Code, a non-participating or a limited participating candidate shall be presumed to have the ability to self finance when it is demonstrated through supporting documentation that such candidate has readily available funds in excess of one-fifth of the applicable expenditure limit and that such candidate can reasonably be expected to spend such funds for his or her nomination or election.

(b) Generally. To permit the Board to make these determinations in a timely, fair, and efficient manner, pursuant to the Act, it is expected that participants, limited participants, and non-participants will cooperate fully with Board requests for information and adhere to the procedures set forth in this rule and the requirements of New York Election Law Article 14 and State Board of Elections regulations.

(c) Facial Determinations. The Board may find that a candidate’s forms submitted to the Campaign Finance Board or to the Board of Elections provide on their face a sufficient basis for a determination pursuant to paragraph (a) above. The Board will presume that contributions and loans are accepted, disbursements are made, and liabilities are incurred by a candidate for his or her next following election. In the absence of evidence indicating otherwise, the Board will rely upon the date of contributions, loans, disbursements, and liabilities as they appear on forms submitted to the Campaign Finance Board or the Board of Elections. In addition, the Board will presume that cash on hand after an election consists of contributions that are available for expenditure in the next election.

(d) Petitions. The Board may make a determination pursuant to paragraph (a) above following the submission of a written petition, as provided in this rule. The written petition shall: (1) be sworn to or affirmed; (2) indicate the participant or limited participant on whose behalf it is submitted, if any; (3) specify the particular information contained in forms submitted to the Campaign Finance Board or the Board of Elections on behalf of the respondent that is alleged to be inaccurate, if any, and the particular information alleged to be omitted from those forms, if any (in the absence of these allegations, the Board will presume that any forms on file at the Campaign Finance Board or the Board of Elections at the time the petition is submitted are true and complete for the applicable reporting periods); (4) identify specific fund-raising and/or spending activities on behalf of the respondent that are alleged to have taken place after the close of the reporting period covered by the last such forms submitted on behalf of the respondent, if any; (5) include all relevant names, dates, and amounts pertaining to monetary and in-kind contributions, and vendors providing goods and services to the respondent or to a third party on behalf of the respondent, including information concerning the fair market value of services, materials, facilities, advertising, or other things of value reported to have been received or expended on his or her behalf; and (6) contain information about statements reported to have been made by the respondent, his or her agents, or authorized representatives, and any other relevant information. The Board will not consider petitions submitted after the due date for the last disclosure statement required to be filed with the Campaign Finance Board by any candidate in the election for which the petition is filed.

(e) Petitioner’s burden. The petitioner shall submit with the petition evidence that supports the allegations made in the petition, including but not limited to the information described in paragraph (d)(5). The petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a sufficient basis for a determination pursuant to paragraph (a). Failure by the respondent to file required disclosure forms may be a sufficient basis, and must be addressed in the respondent’s response to the petition.

(f) Notice of petition. The Board shall send a copy of the petition to the respondent, any opposing participants, and, in the case of a determination pursuant to §3-706(a) or (b) of the Code, any opposing limited participants. The notice shall specify: (1) the deadline for the respondent to submit a response, pursuant to subdivision (g); (2) the deadline for opposing participants or limited participants other than a respondent to submit petitions for consideration at any hearing referred to in the notice; and (3) the date and time at which the Board will conduct a hearing on the petition, if any, pursuant to subdivision (h).

(g) Response to the petition. The respondent shall submit a response in such manner as may be provided by the Board. The response shall: (1) be sworn to or affirmed; (2) either:

(i) acknowledge that fund-raising or spending on behalf of the respondent is sufficient to permit the Board to make a determination pursuant to paragraph (a), regardless of the merit of the petitioning participant’s or limited participant’s particular allegations; or

(ii) contend that a determination pursuant to paragraph (a) would be inappropriate and specify the allegations in the petition that are denied and those that are admitted;

(3) explain any failure to file any forms required in the election year; and

(4) be signed by the respondent or his or her treasurer. The respondent shall submit with the response evidence that supports the response, including, but not limited to, all relevant names, dates, and amounts pertaining to monetary and in-kind contributions, and vendors providing goods and services to the respondent or to a third party on his or her behalf, including information concerning the fair market value of services, materials, facilities, advertising, or other things of value reported to have been received or expended on behalf of the respondent. A failure to submit a response may be deemed an admission that there is a sufficient basis for a determination pursuant to paragraph (a).

(h) Hearing. (1) The petitioner, the respondent, or an opposing participant or limited participant other than a respondent may request the Board to conduct a hearing on the petition.

(2) If the Board determines to conduct a hearing, as requested or on its own initiative, the hearing date will be no earlier than 10 days after the petition is received, except: (i) for good cause shown; or (ii) for petitions received less than 30 days before the election, in which case the hearing date will be no earlier than 3 days after the petition is received.

(3) The respondent and each opposing participant or limited participant shall notify the Board no less than one day in advance whether they will be represented at the hearing and, if the petitioner or the respondent will not be represented, the reason for the absence. Representation of a party at a hearing must be by a person with knowledge of the facts at issue.

(4) At the hearing, testimony given may be under oath, recorded, and in the following order: (i) the petitioner; (ii) opposing participants and/or limited participants other than a respondent; (iii) the respondent; (iv) Board staff, if appropriate; and (v) an opportunity for each party to rebut, if deemed appropriate by the Board.

(i) Notice of determination. Following the review of disclosure forms, the submission of a petition and an opportunity for a response, and/or a hearing, the Board will decide whether there is a sufficient basis for a determination pursuant to paragraph (a). The Board shall provide written notice to the respondent, all opposing participants and limited participants other than a respondent, and the petitioner, if any, of a determination pursuant to paragraph (a) or a decision not to make such a determination, as requested by a petition, and the basis therefor.

(j) New petitions. A decision not to make a determination pursuant to paragraph (a) shall not be construed to preclude the subsequent submission of any petition for a determination respecting that candidate.

(k) Reconsideration. The petitioner, the respondent, or an opposing participant or limited participant other than a respondent may request that the Board reconsider the determination pursuant to paragraph (a) or the decision not to make such a determination. This request shall be made in writing no later than 10 days after the determination or decision. A request for reconsideration from a respondent must also include: (1) an affidavit of the respondent or his of her treasurer affirming that neither fund-raising nor spending on behalf of the respondent that has taken place after the close of the most recent reporting period is sufficient to permit the Board to make a determination pursuant to paragraph (a); and (2) an undertaking by the respondent or treasurer to notify the Board immediately in writing if and when either fund-raising or spending on behalf of the respondent becomes sufficient to permit the Board to make a determination pursuant to paragraph (a). The Board may consider a respondent’s failure to respond to the petition, or the failure of the party requesting reconsideration to be represented at a hearing on the petition, to be a sufficient basis for denying a request for reconsideration. The Board shall notify the respondent, all opposing participants, and, in the case of a determination pursuant to §3-706(a) or (b) of the Code, all opposing limited participants, and the petitioner on whether it will reconsider the determination pursuant to paragraph (a) or decision not to make such a determination, as the case may be. If the Board grants reconsideration and determines to conduct a hearing, the hearing shall be conducted in the manner described in paragraph (h)(4).

(l) Submission of false information. If the Board has reason to believe that a candidate or any other person has knowingly submitted false information or fabricated evidence or has knowingly withheld or concealed information, relevant to a determination under paragraph (a), the Board shall refer the matter to the appropriate agency for criminal prosecution and may commence a civil action to recover public funds and/or civil penalties, if appropriate.

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Rule 7-04 Advisory Opinions.

Upon the written request of a candidate or any other person, the Board shall issue advisory opinions interpreting the Act and these rules, or otherwise respond in writing to the request, within thirty days of receipt of such request, or within ten business days of receipt if such request is received less than thirty days before a covered election, to the extent practicable. The Board shall make public its advisory opinions and the questions of interpretation for which advisory opinions will be considered by the Board, including by publication on its Web site.

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Rule 7-05 Contribution and Expenditure Limit Adjustments.

(a) Adjustment of Contribution Limits. Pursuant to §3-703(7) of the Code, not later than the first day of March in the year 2018, and every fourth year thereafter, the Board shall adjust the contribution limits in accordance with changes in the consumer price index for the metropolitan New York-New Jersey region published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. The adjustments shall be based on the difference between the average consumer price index over the twelve months preceding the calendar year of such adjustment, and either (a) the calendar year preceding the year of the last such adjustment or (b) such other calendar year as may be appropriate pursuant to any amendment to the Act.

(b) Adjustment of Expenditure Limits. Pursuant to §3-706(1)(e) of the Code, not later than the first day of March in the year 2010, and every fourth year thereafter, the Board shall adjust the expenditure limits applicable pursuant to § 3-706(1) and (2) in accordance with changes in the consumer price index for the metropolitan New York-New Jersey region published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. The adjustments shall be based on the difference between the average consumer price index over the twelve months preceding the calendar year of such adjustment, and either (a) the calendar year preceding the year of the last such adjustment or (b) such other calendar year as may be appropriate pursuant to any amendment to the Act.

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Rule 7-06 Ethical Guidelines

The Board has determined that the conduct of its members and staff should be guided by Ethical Guidelines. The Board recognizes that some of its members and staff may be lawyers and therefore subject to additional professional codes, such as the Lawyer’s Code of Professional Responsibility. In addition, the standards set forth in the Act and Charter Chapters 46 and 68 are applicable to all Board members and staff. The purpose of the Guidelines is to state standards of behavior that go beyond legal and professional obligations in order to ensure the highest degree of public confidence in the work of the Board.

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* Please send complaints to the CFB’s new address: 100 Church Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10007