In a ruling Wednesday, state Supreme Court Justice Lisa Fisher dismissed a lawsuit against the state Board of Elections seeking to do away with the so-called “LLC loophole,” which has allowed real estate developers and other interests to give huge campaign contributions in New York elections. The LLC loophole is the result of a 1996 state Board of Elections decision, which allows each limited liability company controlled by a developer to each give up to $150,000 annually in New York elections, the same amount an individual can give. In her ruling, Fisher, who heard arguments on the matter in Greene County Supreme Court in December, said that the statute of limitations had long run out to bring a case seeking to do away with the 1996 Board of Elections’ administrative decision.
The plaintiffs in the case, which included New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice, argued that a deadlocked vote in 2015 vote by the state Board of Elections’ four commissioners to reconsider the matter made the lawsuit within the legal time frame to bring an action. (The Board’s two Democrats voted to reconsider the 1996 opinion, while the Republican voted not to.)
The 2015 action “does not allow Petitioners to bootstrap the 1996 opinion into the realm of judicial review,” Fisher wrote.
Fisher also contested the argument by plaintiffs, which included political candidates, that they had been harmed by the existence of the LLC loophole. That would give them standing in the case. “The argument that a candidate would have won or had a viable campaign if not for the ‘LLC loophole’ is grossly ‘conjecture or speculation’ which cannot create standing,” she wrote.