Federal District Court Upholds NYC's Pay-to-Play Restrictions

February 11, 2009

On Friday, Southern District Judge Laura Taylor Swain issued a decision in Ognibene v. Parkes upholding recent amendments to the New York City Campaign Finance Act.    The plaintiffs had sought an injunction against the enforcement of the doing business laws and the extension of the corporate contributions ban to LLCs and partnerships.  Analyzing the case under the standards set forth in Buckley v. Valeo, Judge Swain found that the City had presented “substantial evidence of the existence of a public perception of corruption or the potential of corruption by those doing business with the City” and that the limitations were closely drawn to comport  with that interest. As we noted here in our previous discussion of the case, the Court specifically found that plaintiffs' allegation that the doing business limits unconstitutionally burden the constitutional rights of the family members and employees of lobbyists was without basis because the Campaign Finance Board had clarified that the definition of “lobbyist” was narrow in scope such that family members and employers were excluded from the definition and therefore were not subject to the doing business limits.

Tag: New York City