ECBA and John Liu Challenge Constitutionality of New York City’s Campaign Finance System

Former New York City Comptroller and candidate for mayor John Liu, represented by Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, filed suit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of New York City’s campaign finance system. The suit asserts that the rules governing the public financing system for City elections violate candidates’ First Amendment rights by giving the Campaign Finance Board, a City agency composed of five political appointees, unfettered discretion to arbitrarily determine which candidates receive significant public funding. This scheme allows the Board to censor candidates’ speech on a whim and grants it the authority to give preferential treatment to certain campaigns at the expense of others. The suit also alleges that the Board violated Liu’s Equal Protection rights when it preemptively excluded him from the public financing process based on mere suspicion and unproven allegations, even though in the past it has disbursed public funds to campaigns that have been caught breaking the law. Liu, whose 2013 campaign for mayor was denied all public matching funds just weeks before the Democratic primary election, noted that the Campaign Finance Board “is in dire need of reform.”

To read the complaint, filed in the Southern District of New York click here. To read the press release, click here.

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