This poor minority pictured to the right is fighting to make a difference here in New York City. James Bopp Jr. is sick and tired of a new law that prohibits poor lobbyists and real estate developers from being able to exercise their freedom of
using endless amounts of cash speech so that they can help elect candidates that support their views. Speaker Christine Quinn is in the target sight of these victims after she passed a law that was instituted to clamp down on special interest money's effect on elections here. Now James, who has already fought back Vermont's attempt at kicking corporate interests out of their government is in town to support the rights of all the poor developers, you know, derelicts like Bruce Ratner and Donald Trump.
From The New York Times:
A lawsuit financially backed by the business interests and others was filed Monday in federal court in Manhattan against the City Campaign Finance Board, which enforces the campaign finance system. The suit charged that the limits violated free speech and equal protection provisions of the Constitution and discriminated against minorities.
The law, which has been called one of the toughest in the nation, aims to diminish the influence of special interests on city campaigns. It reduces by more than 90 percent the amount that those who do business with the city can contribute, to $400 from $4,950 in a mayor’s race, for instance, and to $250 from $2,950 in City Council races.
And what was Mr. Bopp's premise for the lawsuit?
In an unusual tack, Mr. Bopp claimed that New York’s limits would make it more difficult for minority candidates to run, because they tend to come from poorer areas where their neighbors cannot contribute, so they must turn to business interests for donations.
“When minority candidates run, their natural constituency is their neighborhoods and their neighbors,” Mr. Bopp said in a telephone interview.
“And the unfortunate reality is that the minority population is on average in the lower socioeconomic level and less able to contribute, so minority candidates have to rely — I am told by activists here, consultants — that they tend to rely disproportionately on contributions from outside of their district, and in particular, business interests. So that this would disproportionately affect them.”
Aww how nice of him to care about minorities like that, especially when the interests he represents are the principle factor in driving up rent across the city that ultimately forces many minorities out of New York. Some experts though doubt his sincerity.
Richard Briffault, a law professor at Columbia University and an expert on campaign finance law, said the lawsuit appeared to be a “stretch,” particularly the aspects claiming racial discrimination.
“It’s going to affect everybody,” Mr. Briffault said. “There’s no evidence that Hispanics or African-American candidates are particularly dependent on lobbyist donations than white candidates.”
Yes Professor Briffault, it is a stretch, those laws are a good first step in combating the problem with money and elections. Of course Speaker Quinn could have gone a different way, but that is something we are working on as well. Eventually we will have clean elections in the city and throughout the state, it is only a matter of time.