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Advisory Opinions

Each Advisory Opinion is based on the relevant statutory and regulatory provisions in effect at the time the Advisory Opinion was adopted. The New York City Campaign Finance Act and the Rules of the New York City Campaign Finance Board have been amended several times since many of the Board’s advisory opinions were issued. You should consult the most current versions of the Act and Rules to ensure that the reasoning and conclusions of an Advisory Opinion are still applicable, or contact the Board’s Legal Unit at (212) 409-1800.

To get copies of Advisory Opinions or to be placed on a mailing list for all Advisory Opinions issued by the Campaign Finance Board, please contact the Board’s Candidate Services Unit at (212) 409-1800.

You can check out the Advisory Opinion requests page here.

2016
2016-1: Coordinated Activity in Connection with a Covered Election Will be Subject to the Campaign Finance Act and Board Rules
July 6, 2016
Clarifies the Board’s approach towards coordinated activity that is made in connection with a covered election. Coordinated expenditures that are made in connection with a covered election will be subject to the Campaign Finance Act and Board Rules governing candidates. When candidates engage in coordination with outside organizations that have made expenditures on issue advocacy communications promoting the candidate, the Board will consider, under the totality of the circumstances and...
2013
2013-1: Clarification of Independent Activity and In-Kind Contributions
January 10, 2013
This opinion clarifies the Board’s approach towards independent activity and in-kind contributions as expressed in Advisory Opinion No. 2012-1. The following interactions between a candidate and a third party would not be considered non-independent activity: Discussions of logistics such as date, time, and location in arranging for a candidate’s appearance at a non-fundraising event; Communications directly related to an entity’s endorsement process; or Requesting, obtaining, and/or...
2013-2: Runoff in 2013 Democratic Mayoral Primary is "Reasonably Anticipated"
January 10, 2013
This opinion clarifies the Board’s approach towards independent activity and in-kind contributions as expressed in Advisory Opinion No. 2012-1. The following interactions between a candidate and a third party would not be considered non-independent activity: Discussions of logistics such as date, time, and location in arranging for a candidate’s appearance at a non-fundraising event; Communications directly related to an entity’s endorsement process; or Requesting, obtaining, and/or...
2013-3: Runoff primary in the Democratic Party election for public advocate is "reasonably anticipated"
August 15, 2013
2012
2012-1: Certain Flyers May Constitute In-Kind Contribution
June 21, 2012
A mass mailing by an entity of a flyer noting one or more candidates’ support for a cause, or of a flyer advertising one or more candidates’ appearance at an event sponsored by that entity, where the candidates have fostered or cooperated in the content and distribution of the flyer, may constitute an in-kind contribution from the entity to the candidate or candidates, depending on several factors.  For either type of flyer, regardless whether an in-kind contribution has been made, the entity...
2010
2010-1: Guidance Concerning Contributions Raised by Group 1 and 2 Candidates
January 7, 2010
On November 3, 2008, the Board issued Advisory Opinion No. 2008-7 to provide guidance to candidates subject to the Campaign Finance Act who were impacted by legislation extending term limits. In order to address candidates who had activity in the 2009 election cycle but were not covered by AO 2008-7, the Board issued Advisory Opinion No. 2009-8 on October 29, 2009, to clarify that such candidates are not eligible to receive the benefits of AO 2008-7. The Board is issuing this advisory opinion...
2010-2: Requirements for March 23, 2010 Special Election (City Council, 44th District)
February 4, 2010
On January 31, 2010, City Council Member Simcha Felder resigned.  On February 1, 2010, the Mayor proclaimed a special election to be held on March 23, 2010, to fill this vacancy.  The Board is issuing this advisory opinion to address the general requirements of the New York City Campaign Finance Act and the requirements for participation in the New York City Campaign Finance Program for this special election.
2010-3: Application of The Doing Business Contribution Limits to a Candidate Who Has Not Yet Declared an Office
September 16, 2010
Advisory Opinion No. 2010-3 provides guidance regarding the application of the doing business contribution limits to a candidate who, at the time a contribution is received, has not yet declared an office.  An undeclared candidate is not in violation of the doing business contribution limit if he/she accepts a contribution at a higher office contribution limit.  However, once the candidate declares with the Board that he/she is running for an office, the candidate must return any portion in...
2009
2009-1: Requirements for February 24, 2009 Special Election (City Council, 21st and 32nd Districts)
January 8, 2009
On November 5, 2008, Council Member Hiram Monserrate, who represented the 21st Council District, and Council Member Joseph Addabbo, who represented the 32nd Council District, were elected to the New York State Senate, and Council Member Michael E. McMahon, who represented the 49th Council District, was elected to the United States Congress.  Council Members Moneserrate and Addabbo resigned effective  December 31, 2008, and Council Member McMahon resigned effective January 2, 2009.  On January 3...
2009-2: Accessing Funds from "Frozen" Committee
January 8, 2009
The Board will not provide detailed guidance regarding whether a candidate, after choosing Option 1-A as described in Advisory Opinion No. 2008-7, can later access the funds in the “frozen” committee if s/he later decides to run for higher office instead of his/her incumbent seat because the current incumbent – after the January 15, 2009 deadline - decides not to seek reelection.  Though it is possible that the Campaign Finance Act and Board Rules would require the Board to permit candidates...
2009-3: Requirements for April 21, 2009 Special Election (Bronx Borough President)
March 19, 2009
On March 1, 2009, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. resigned.  On March 2, 2009, the Mayor proclaimed a special election to be held on April 21, 2009, to fill this vacancy.  The Board is issuing this advisory opinion to address the general requirements of the New York City Campaign Finance Act and the requirements for participation in the New York City Campaign Finance Program for this special election.
2009-4: Raising Primary Election Expenditure Limit When Opponent is a High-Spending Non-Participant
April 14, 2009
Pursuant to the “bonus provisions” of the Campaign Finance Act, in any election in which the receipts or expenditures of the high-spending non-participant exceed three times the applicable expenditure limit, the Board lifts the expenditure limit for participants running in the same election as the high-spending non-participant, matches participants’ contributions at a higher rate, and increases the maximum amount of public funds participants can receive. Thus, although the Board understands the...
2009-5: Democratic Party Public Advocate Primary Runoff Election is "Reasonably Anticipated"
July 19, 2009
Based on the information now available, the Board has determined that a Democratic Party public advocate runoff election is “reasonably anticipated.”  Candidates seeking nomination for election in the 2009 Democratic Party public advocate primary therefore may accept contributions for a runoff election to be deposited in a separate runoff account.  Allowance for accepting contributions for a runoff election is not open-ended.  Once it is no longer reasonable to anticipate a runoff election, the...
2009-6: Democratic Party Comptroller Primary Runoff Election is "Reasonably Anticipated"
August 6, 2009
Based on the information now available, the Board has determined that a Democratic Party comptroller runoff election is “reasonably anticipated.”  Candidates seeking nomination for election in the 2009 Democratic Party comptroller primary therefore may accept contributions for a runoff election to be deposited in a separate runoff account.  Allowance for accepting contributions for a runoff election is not open-ended.  Once it is no longer reasonable to anticipate a runoff election, the Board...
2009-7: Guidance on Law Relating to Third Party Expenditures
August 6, 2009
Advisory Opinion No. 2009-7 offers guidance as to how the Board interprets the law relating to third party expenditures, and provides examples of past determinations in which the Board determined that third party expenditures were non-independent.  Non-independent third party expenditures pose a serious threat to New York City’s Campaign Finance Program and the Board is committed to ensuring that the law with respect to non-independent expenditures is enforced vigorously and consistently.  The...
2009-8: Guidance Concerning Contributions Raised by "Other Candidates"
October 29, 2009
On November 3, 2008, the Board issued Advisory Opinion No. 2008-7 to provide guidance to candidates subject to the Campaign Finance Act who were impacted by legislation extending term limits.  However, there are other candidates, in 2009 and future election cycles, who had or will have activity in that election cycle and then choose to terminate their candidacy.  In particular, in 2009 there are candidates who did not meet the criteria for Groups 1 and 2 in AO 2008-7.  The Board is issuing this...
2008
2008-1: $175 is the Maximum Portion of a Contribution Counting Toward Dollar Amount Threshold for Elections after January 1, 2008
March 13, 2008
For regularly scheduled elections held after January 1, 2008, a maximum of $175 of each matchable contribution may be counted towards the dollar amount threshold requirement, regardless of the date the contribution was originally received.
2008-2: Clarification of Expenditure Limits for Contributions Made by City Council Candidates for the Purpose of Election to the Position of City Council Speaker
April 10, 2008
Advisory Opinion 2008-2 clarifies the application of the expenditure limits to spending in the form of contributions made by candidates running for City Council from their campaign for the purpose of furthering these candidates’ election to the position of Speaker of the City Council. Pursuant to Administrative Code § 3-702(21)(a)(2), there is a rebuttable presumption that contributions by participants to other candidates are, with limited exceptions, campaign-related. In addition, the Speaker’...
2008-3: Requirements for Potential Special Election and Subsequent 2008 Primary and General Elections (City Council, 30th District)
April 10, 2008
Councilman Dennis P. Gallagher announced on March 17, 2008 that he would resign from office by April 18, 2008, thereby creating a vacancy in the 30th Council District. Advisory Opinion No. 2008-3 outlines the rules for the anticipated special election to fill the vacancy and the subsequent 2008 primary and general elections, including contribution and expenditure limits, threshold requirements, maximum public funds payments, and the proper attribution of financial transactions which occurred...
2008-4: Clarification of Exemptions from Expenditure Limits for Post-Election Audit Expenses
April 10, 2008
The exemption from the expenditure limits for “expenses related to the post-election audit” set forth in New York City Administrative Code Section 3-706(4)(a) will be limited to pre-election costs for organizing existing records in preparation for submission during the post-election audit, and copying them. This does not include reviewing activities to identify missing documents, to evaluate whether documents meet Board standards, or to prevent and/or correct potential violations, because these...
2008-5: Clarification of Factors to Determine Whether a Runoff Election is "Reasonably Anticipated"
July 10, 2008
Advisory Opinion 2008-5 clarifies how a candidate demonstrates to the Campaign Finance Board that a runoff election is “reasonably anticipated” under Board Rule 1-04(q). Because the Board bases its determination that a runoff election is “reasonably anticipated” on objective facts, candidates must provide the Board with documented, concrete evidence. Factors considered in assessing whether a runoff election is “reasonably anticipated” include: 1) a history of runoff primaries in a particular...
2008-6: Clarification of Reporting Requirements for Intermediary Provisions of Administrative Code Section 3-702(12)
July 10, 2008
Advisory Opinion 2008-6 clarifies the reporting requirements of the new intermediary provisions of Administrative Code Section 3-702(12). In order to achieve this section’s intended purpose of increasing transparency and limiting the appearance of undue influence associated with contributions, campaigns are required to disclose a known solicitor for a particular contribution. Where the known person or entity soliciting a contribution is different from the person or entity delivering the...
2008-7: Impact of Term Limit Extension on Candidates Subject to the Campaign Finance Act
November 3, 2008
On November 3, 2008, Mayor Bloomberg signed Local Law No. 51 (2008), extending term limits from two terms to three for current elected officials. The Board is issuing this advisory opinion to address the impact of this legislation on two groups of candidates subject to the provisions of the Campaign Finance Act: (1) Candidates with reported activity who now will seek re-election to their incumbent offices in 2009, instead of the higher offices they anticipated seeking in 2009; and (2)...
2007
2007-1: Distribution of Mass Communications in Electronic Forms Subject to 90 Day Mass Mailings Rule
February 8, 2007
New York City Charter (“Charter”) § 1136.1(2)(b) prohibits public servants running for elective office from using government resources for a “mass mailing that is postmarked, if mailed, or delivered, if by other means” within ninety days of the election, subject to certain exceptions.  Using government resources to distribute literature or other mass communications to residents or voters through electronic forms of communication or by having the communications available at stationary sites at...
2007-2: Requirements for Potential Second Special Election and Subsequent 2007 Primary and General Elections (City Council, 40th District)
March 6, 2007
On February 20, 2007, Mathieu Eugene received the most votes in the special election held to fill the vacancy in the 40th Council District created by Councilmember Yvette D. Clarke’s election to Congress on November 7, 2006. However, Mr. Eugene’s eligibility to take office has been cast into doubt due to questions concerning his residency. If Mr. Eugene is found ineligible to take office, a second special election likely will be held. Advisory Opinion 2007-2 outlines the requirements for this...
2007-3: Clarification of Process for Determining Non-Campaign-Related Expenditures
March 7, 2007
The Board hereby clarifies its evaluation process for determining what expenditures, both prior to and following the election, will be considered non-campaign-related, and discusses historical examples of the types of expenditures that have raised particular concern.  A candidate’s principal committee may make expenditures only to further a candidate’s nomination or election.  Where the Board finds that expenditures have been made for a non-campaign-related purpose, the Board may assess a...
2007-4: Expenditures Will Be Attributed to an Election Based on Their Underlying Purpose
May 9, 2007
Pursuant to Board Rule 1-08(c)(1), expenditures are presumed to be for a candidate’s next election.  This presumption simplifies reporting by reducing uncertainty surrounding the attribution of expenditures that may benefit the candidate in more than one election.  However, the Board must balance this purpose with the need to ensure equitable application of the expenditure limits. Advisory Opinion 2007-4, issued in response to an advisory opinion request from counsel to Anthony Weiner,...
2007-5: Campaigns Must Not Compensate Volunteers for Personal Services
September 6, 2007
Campaigns must not compensate volunteers for personal services. If a volunteer owns a firm whose paid employees provide services to a campaign, the campaign must compensate the firm for the services provided in a manner that ensures that neither the volunteer nor the firm profits. The campaign receiving services from the volunteer’s firm must submit to the Board for preapproval its methodology for compensating the firm for the fair market value of its provided services while eliminating the...
2007-6: Use of Campaign Funds or Personal Funds for Certain Advertisements and Inclusion of City Office Contact Information in Such Advertisements
December 21, 2007
Candidates who are public servants may use government resources for advertising with a public purpose, with certain restrictions. Candidates may not use campaign funds for advertisements for which government funds may be used. Candidates may, however, use personal funds for these types of advertisements. Candidates must use campaign funds for campaign-related advertisements in all media including congratulatory, seasonal and commemorative advertisements, web sites and journal ads. Candidates...
2006
2006-1: Public Servant Candidates Prohibited From Using Government Resources to Distribute Mass Mailings within 90 Days of an Election for any Elective Office, Including Party District Leader, Subject to Certain Exceptions
June 13, 2006
New York City Charter (“Charter”) § 1136.1(2)(b) prohibits public servants from using government resources to distribute mass mailings within ninety days of an election for any elective office, subject to certain exceptions. Charter § 1136.1(2)(b) applies to City Council members who choose to run for party district leader, because the office of party district leader is an “elective office” pursuant to Charter § 1136.1(1)(d).

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