Cuomo: Close the ‘LLC loophole’ by whatever means

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he thinks the so-called “LLC loophole” should be closed — and it doesn’t matter how.

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The state Board of Elections this afternoon is expected to discuss whether it should reconsider a 1996 opinion that allows limited liability companies to be treated as individuals under the state’s campaign-finance laws, which allows them to donate to politicians at a much higher rate. The opinion also opened the door for individuals and companies to open multiple LLCs to get around various limits on how much they can contribute.

Cuomo — whose re-election campaign raised about $4 million from LLCs last year — has repeatedly said he supports closing the loophole.

In a statement ahead of the Board of Elections’ meeting, a spokeswoman for Cuomo said the governor supports the board taking action.

“Whether by legislation or action taken by the Board of Elections, the Governor believes the LLC loophole should be closed,” spokeswoman Dani Lever said.

Political donations by LLCs to New York candidates have exploded in recent years, with plenty of major-party candidates benefiting.

LLCs contributed about $25 million to in-state campaigns in the past two years, compared to just $3 million the previous 12 years, a review by Gannett found.

The Board of Elections, meanwhile, is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans. Among them: Former Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, who Cuomo appointed to the board last year.

The effort to revisit the 1996 opinion was spurred by a letter last week from the Brennan Center for Justice, which picked up support from various good-government groups and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The state Business Council sent a letter to the board Wednesday, arguing that it doesn’t have the legal authority to act.

(AP file photo)

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