Running for Office: Who Can Give to NYC Candidates

May 25, 2017

New York City residents can do more than vote to make their voices heard in the electoral process. One important step New Yorkers can take is to support candidates by contributing money to their campaigns.

Contributing to candidates for city office is particularly powerful because of NYC’s campaign finance program, which matches contributions of $175 or less from NYC residents with public funds, at a ratio of 6-to-1. So, for candidates who choose to participate in the program, a contribution of $10 can be worth $70. The program aims to diminish the influence of big money and special interests by amplifying small donations from everyday New Yorkers, and allowing a broader array of candidates to run for office.

The CFB has received a number of questions in recent months about who is eligible to contribute to campaigns. Many callers ask specifically if being a U.S. citizen is a requirement for making political contributions to candidates for New York City offices.

According to federal law, contributors to candidates running for city office must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. A permanent resident is commonly known as a green card holder. The city’s campaign finance law states that eligible contributions from city residents shall be matched with public funds.[1]

Campaigns must not accept contributions from contributors that they know are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents; nor should they knowingly facilitate contributions from any other prohibited sources. If a campaign receives a contribution from someone it knows is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, the campaign must immediately refund the contribution via certified or bank check.

Because the Federal Campaign Act governs contributions from foreign nationals, for more information, refer to the Federal Election Commissions’ Foreign Nationals page. If you are working on a campaign covered by the Campaign Finance Act, you can reach out to your Candidate Services Liaison with any questions or concerns.


 [1] Campaigns must satisfy the eligibility requirements in order to receive public funds payments for small contributions; contributions from individuals listed in the city’s Doing Business Database are not eligible for public matching funds payments.