CFB puts matching funds for mayoral candidate Donovan on hold over possible violations

Donovan, director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, answers a question during the Reuters Global Climate Change Summit in Washington
Shaun Donovan, director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), answers a question during the Reuters Global Climate Change Summit in Washington, October 14, 2014.
REUTERS / Jim Bourg

The city’s Campaign Finance Board is weighing a possible violation against mayoral candidate Shaun Donovan after a political action committee called New Start NYC bought up $2.74 million in television ad time to promote his campaign.

The former Housing and Urban Development secretary may not get a matching funds program payment in the meantime until it is decided whether or not a violation did occur, according to the CFB — making him, at least for now, one of the only frontrunners left out of the public funds payment issued on Thursday.

“The board is deferring its decision on whether to pay public funds to the Donovan campaign today, but it has not made a determination on public funds payments nor on whether there has been a violation,” said Frederick Schaffer, chair of the CFB. “The Board will seek further information in this matter from the Donovan campaign and from New Start NYC and will review that information promptly.”

In total, $10,050,316 was to six candidates who qualify for matching funds with Andrew Yang topping the charts in this regard with $3,724,112. For every dollar raised by a campaign in the program, the city provides eight to offset any wealth advantages one candidate may have over opponents.

Source: NYC Campaign Finance Board

Donovan has reported raising 2.2 million to the Campaign Finance Board. His campaign does not foresee the CFB’s hold as a major setback.

“We are confident that this will be resolved quickly. We look forward to working with the Campaign Finance Board, because we believe that New York City’s campaign finance laws are a model for the nation,” Donovan Campaign Manager Brendan McPhillips said. “We are grateful to the thousands of New Yorkers who donated to us knowing that their hard-earned dollars would be a part of this system. We believe that in short order our matching funds will be released.”

But New Start NYC’s contribution to Donovan’s campaign may be exceeding all competition in the race for mayor, with even Ray McGuire, a former CitiGroup executive bringing his own money into the fold and spending 1.1. million so far on radio and television ads, according to AdImpact.

McGuire, however, is only enrolled in the matching funds program so that he will not be receiving a boost from city taxpayers, but for every $3.6 million he spends, the spending cap for participants getting money from the city would be raised to nearly $11 million. If his spending were to reach $22 million, the cap would be lifted from all candidates in the matching funds program.

Donovan, after serving in President Barack Obama’s cabinet leading HUD, has put forward proposals to resolve housing issues in New York City and has worked as an attorney to defend the homeless residents of the Lucerne Hotel who faced displacement from the de Blasio administration.

Politico first reported the story.