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State AG in Buffalo to discuss electioneering disclosure laws for non-profits

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Buffalo: State AG in Buffalo to discuss electioneering disclosure laws for non-profits
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State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was in Buffalo Wednesday to hold a hearing on proposed new disclosure regulations for non-profits that engage in electioneering. As YNN's Kevin Jolly tells us, some local politicians and non-profits support the proposed changes.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Last November, we got a glimpse of what can happen when non-profits that conceal the identity of their donors, as pretty much all non profits do, invade our electoral process.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was in Buffalo Wednesday to try to shed light on a problem that's having a profound impact on the election process. It's called "dark money," or anonymous people or groups donating money to non profits to influence the outcome of an election.

"Back in 2010, when I was running for the New York State Senate, there was an out-of-state group that poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the State Senate race against me as "dark money." We couldn't find who exactly was behind that money," said State Senator Tim Kennedy.

Kennedy won his race but he told Schneiderman something needs to be done about the problem.

"Unfortunately, there are ways that very wealthy individuals and very wealthy organizations and corporations that have a hidden agenda are able to hide behind this non-profit status that really hurt the good non-profits in the community," said Kennedy.

Pastor Mark Blue of the Second Baptist Church in Lackawanna agrees. He told the panel the non-profits that engage in "dark money" politics are hurting the churches.

"501-c4s, they're putting a black eye on the churches and those who are doing good work under the 501-c3 status and we do need to have that disclosure to make sure things are being done fairly. We need to have that disclosure to make sure those that are doing the improper things are held accountable," said Pastor Blue.

In December, Schneiderman proposed new regulations to do just that. Non profits that spend at least $10,000 to influence an election will be required to report that information which will be made available to the public.

Schneiderman says following series of public hearings like this one, he hopes to have the regulations finalized by the end of March and in place before local elections at the end of the year.

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