CFB Updates its Rules

Tuesday, September 13, 2016
The CFB has issued a set of proposed rules ahead of the 2017 citywide elections. These rules, among other things, impose new restrictions on independent spenders, ease requirements that were burdensome to campaigns in 2013, and clarify certain rules about expenditures and public funds. As campaign practices continue to change dramatically in the post- Citizens United era CFB must adapt its rules to uphold the integrity of the law while reducing unnecessary burdens on candidates who want to participate in the program and serve the people of New York City.
Below is a selection of some notable changes to the rules. This list is not comprehensive; a full list can be found on the CFB’s website.

Independent expenditures and coordination

  • Rule 1-08(f): Adds two factors for determining whether expenditures are independent or coordinated with a campaign. The first is that the Board will consider if the candidate engaged in fundraising for the spender.  The second is if the candidate and the spender retained the same employees. The rule states that if these factors exist during the election cycle, the Board will assume an expenditure was coordinated unless there is evidence to the contrary.
  • Rule 13-02: Requires more disclosure from independent spenders, including information about the owners of their contributors, and their contributors’ major contributors. This rule aligns with Local Law 41 of 2014 that we wrote about here.
  • Rule 13-04: Requires independent spenders to disclose on their public communications some of the information about their controlling individuals and top donors.

Reducing administrative burden

  • Rule 1-08(k): Clarifies rules for hiring volunteers: campaigns may hire former volunteers as paid workers, but they may not accept volunteers who previously worked in a similar capacity for pay during the same election cycle. This rule is designed to prevent campaigns from evading the spending limit by transferring paid workers into volunteers. 
  • Rules 1-11 and 4-01(b): Eliminate the requirement that campaigns maintain unique merchant accounts for credit card contributions. The requirement was a substantial burden in 2013 and conflicts with modern banking practices.
  • Rules 1-11 and 3-02(f): Reduce the filing requirements for small campaigns and align the definition of a small campaign with state election law. 
  • Rule 4-01(b): Streamlines the affirmation statement requirements for contributions. The old rule required campaigns to supply documentation with different affirmation statements for each type of contribution. The new rule allows one universal affirmation statement for most types of contributions.
  • Rule 10-02(b): Allows candidates to wear pins or buttons in the photographs and video statements they submit for the Voter Guide.

Expenditures and public funds

  • Rule 1-08(b): Clarifies how expenditures are attributed to the primary, general, and out-year expenditure limits. Campaign advertising and communications will be attributed to the year in which the communication is “distributed, broadcast, or published.” This change is designed to prevent campaigns from “stacking” expenditures in December of the year prior to the election year, even though the majority of the benefit is derived during the election year. 
  • Rule 2-13: Requires that campaign communications include the words “paid for by” or “authorized by” the name of the candidate or campaign committee.
  • Rule 5-01(d): Clarifies that all contributions and their corresponding matching claims must be reported contemporaneously. Contributions that were not contemporaneously reported as matchable in disclosure statements or were not reported in a complete and timely manner in those statements will not be eligible for matching funds.  
  • Rule 1-04: Further restricts when a participant may refund contributions. Participants may only refund contributions if the Board instructs them to do so or if the contributions were received in violation of the Act, Charter, or Rules.
The Board will hold a public hearing on these proposed rules on September 15, 2016. The Board will take comments from the public through September 14 and issue its final rules in October. To submit comments, email them to