The “Women’s Equality Party” (“WEP”) has filed it’s first campaign finance report, the “11-Day Pre-General” election report. Under the Election Law, that report was due today.
WEP reported contributions of $69,500 and no money expended, but it reported $62,212.55 as expenses incurred but not yet paid. Here’s a detailed look.
Contributions: The reported contributions were all from individuals – none were from corporations or LLCs and there not any transfers from other political committees. The contributions were also all reported as cash contributions – no in kind contributions. Of the $69,500 received, $30,000 came from Robert J. Kleinwaks and $25,000 came from Robert J. Mittman. According to the NYS Board of Elections website, it’s the first contribution by Kleinwaks to a New York state candidate. Mittman’s prior contributions include $2,000 in 2006 to Cuomo’s Attorney General campaign and $2,500 in 2010 to his gubernatorial campaign.
None of these contributions should be included in this report. Under Election Law Section 14-108(2), and the corresponding campaign finance 2014 Filing Calendar published by the NYSBOE, this report should include contributions received by a filer through Monday October 20th. Contributions received subsequently should be included in later reports. This WEP report records all of it’s contributions as received today, October 24th. Accordingly (and assuming that WEP has accurately reported the contribution dates), all nine of WEP’s contributions should be reported in the next filing period. Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaign committee (Cuomo Hochul 2014, Inc., and previously named Andrew Cuomo 2014, Inc.) has at times similarly misreported contributions in the wrong period (examples are here and here.)
These nine contributions received today should, however, also be reported as “24 Hour Notice Filings” on the NYSBOE website. Those contributions are not yet (as of 9:15 p.m. on October 24th) listed on the NYSBOE website. Under the Election Law such reporting is to be done within 24 hours of receipt (not “1 day” or “1 business day”), so WEP has until some time on Saturday to report them as 24 Hour Notice filings. (Sidenote: the NYSBOE website lists almost $200,000 as received today by Cuomo Hochul 2014, Inc.)
WEP does not report spending any money (reported on Schedule F), but it reports outstanding liabilities/loans (reported on Schedule N) totaling $62,212.55, including: $46,712.55 to “WOMEN AND WORK LLC DBA WOMEN ONLINE” and $10,000 to “Derris & Company, LLC.” There is no breakdown of either amount and they’re only described as consulting services, without any detailed description. Derris & Company describes itself as “a brand strategy and public relations firm,” and Jesse Derris as it’s “founder and CEO.” We have not yet found information about “WOMEN AND WORK LLC”.
The outstanding liabilities/loans are also reported as incurred today, October 24th. As with the contributions, if the incurred date is accurately reported the liabilities should be reported in the next reporting period. It may be, however, that the services provided for these amounts were performed earlier and that they should be reported as of an earlier date.
I asked WEP why they included contributions received and expenses incurred after the legally mandated cutoff date. Their response was: “The legal cut off date is purely the last day that you are required to file contributions. It is standard practice to report contributions up until the actual day of the filing.” In my view they’re wrong, and not complying with the requirements of Election Law Section 108(2), which provides in relevant part: “Each statement shall cover the period up to and including the fourth day next preceding the day specified for the filing thereof”. Note that WEP, and any campaign are free to publish information about their contributions at any time. The statute only governs the reports filed with the board of elections and is intended to create a uniform “apples to apples” methodology for public information and comparison.
I also asked WEP for detail or description on the liabilities to “WOMEN AND WORK LLC DBA WOMEN ONLINE” and “Derris & Company, LLC” and whether those costs covered WEP bus tours and rallies. WEP advised that “Women’s Online works with WEP on digital engagement and social media strategy. The Derris Group works with WEP as communications consultants. All bus tour expenses were filed on the same day with the State Democratic Party filing.”