An advisory opinion has been requested whether certain expenditures are exempt from the expenditure limits of the New York City Campaign Finance Act as "expenditures for professional services, including legal and accounting fees, made for the purpose of complying with the provisions of the Act or the New York election law." Administrative Code §3-706(5) (a). The following expenditures have been described:
1) Salary or wages for campaign staff who are neither lawyers nor accountants but whose function it is to ensure compliance with the Act or the Election Law, where the campaign also has lawyers and/or accountants, in addition to such staff members, who are assisting the campaign in complying with these legal requirements.
2) Travel and related expenses of the campaign staff referred to in paragraph 1 above.
3) Rental or purchase of computers, typewriters, and other office equipment and supplies used in connection with compliance with these legal requirements.
4) Travel and related expenses of lawyers or accountants who are not paid campaign staff, incurred in connection with their work assisting a candidate in complying with the requirements of the Act or the Election Law.
The exemption for compliance costs covers the provision of "professional services." Thus, the salaries, wages, travel, and related expenses of campaign staff who assist in the performance of compliance tasks, but do not provide professional services in performing these tasks, are not exempt from the expenditure limits of the Act. §3-706(5) (a). To the extent that campaign staff must be consulted by those performing professional services, wages reasonably allocated to time spent providing information directly to professionals may be exempt from the expenditure limits.
The cost of renting or purchasing equipment and supplies for use by accountants, attorneys, systems managers, and their assistants for the purpose of complying with the requirements of the Act and the New York Election Law is exempt from the expenditure limits. If the equipment and supplies are also used for non-exempt expenditures, the Board will accept a reasonable apportionment of costs between those that are not exempt and those that are exempt compliance costs. See Advisory Opinion No. 1989-2, dated January 3, 1989.
The travel and related expenses of lawyers and accountants incurred for the purpose of assisting a candidate in complying with the requirements of the Act or the Election Law are exempt from the expenditure limits pursuant to §3-706(5) (a).
NEW YORK CITY CAMPAIGN FINANCE BOARD