State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Corruption

Electoral Corruption: When to Set Aside the Results of an Election?

By: Carrie Mattingly

How much evidence of corruption should a court require before setting aside the results of an election? Most would say that any corruption is too much. But in a recent case, Kentucky’s highest court balanced the threat of corruption against the threat of destabilizing election results, concluding that there simply was not enough evidence of corruption to justify vacating the office pending another election.

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The Big Apple and Big Money: Matching Public Funds in New York City

By: Caiti Anderson

It seems that New York politicians can’t catch a break – or they just can’t stop getting caught for their indiscretions. Celia Dosamantes, a 25-year-old rising star in Queens, learned this the hard way. Arrested on September 7, 2016, Ms. Dosamantes allegedly forged campaign donations to receive the 6-for-1 matching funds during her failed 2015 run for City Council. While other news organization will surely cover Ms. Dosamantes scandalous trial, New York City’s unique and progressive campaign finance laws stand at the center of this story, and deserve recognition.

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NY Loophole Allows Individual’s $4.3 Million in Direct Contributions

By: Dan Carroll

Given the controversy surrounding the Supreme Court’s decisions upending federal campaign finance law in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the average voter might be surprised to find out that federal law still prohibits corporations from making direct contributions to candidates for federal office and limits the amount individuals can contribute to a particular campaign. On the other hand, twenty-two states allow but limit direct contributions from corporations to candidates for state office.

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Corruption? In MY Elections? Its More Likely Than you Think.

Money and politics have been intertwined since the beginning of government.  Today is no different.  While bribery laws have been around in the United States since the founding, an increasing amount of states have enacted specific laws related to bribery in politics in an effort to address pay to play operations.  Pay to play is the term used to describe a situation where money, typically in the form of political donations, is exchanged for specific political favors, often in the form of a regulation carve out or an award of a government contract.  In an effort to curb political favoritism, states have regulated, or completely prohibited, political donations from lobbyists and government contractors.  New Mexico is no exception.  The New Mexico House of Representatives passed a bill that significantly impacts who can donate to political candidates and political parties.  The bill did not make it through in the Senate, but supporters are hopeful it will pass in the next legislative session.

The text of NM House Bill 118 widely prohibits lobbyists and government contractors from donating to a political candidate or any political committee.  It also prohibits “seekers of targeted subsidies” from political donations.  This is defined as “a person, including a business entity or nonprofit organization, that will directly benefit financially from a targeted subsidy.” A “targeted subsidy” is further described as “a financial benefit, including a tax exemption, credit or reduction in taxes, that is conferred by proposed legislation or the enactment of law on an entity that is: (1) named in the legislation or law as its beneficiary; or (2) described in the legislation or law in a particularized manner that is the functional equivalent of naming the entity as its beneficiary.” Continue reading

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