5:40 pm Oct. 26, 2011
A lengthy lawsuit with local political implications came to an end today, with the Working Families Party paying $100,000 to the plaintiffs' law firm and disbanding its for-profit campaign arm. The WFP's executive director issued a defiantly unapologetic statement.
The payment suggests the WFP is acknowledging some wrongdoing in the way it set up a for-profit entity to help the campaigns of candidates supported by the WFP. Opponents of those candidates contended that the campaign arm, Data and Field Services, was providing services at below-market rates, constituting unaccounted-for in-kind contributions.
It's too soon to tell how this development affects the formidable role the WFP has played in recent city and state elections. In theory, the disbanding of the campaign arm can be compensated for--there are always new ways to push the boundaries of campaign-finance law. The more important question may turn out to be whether the settlement is interpreted as an admission of wrongdoing (defiant statement notwithstanding), in which case the Times editorial board, whose endorsements are sometimes crucially important in local Democratic primaries, may look unkindly on the next candidate who accepts the party's help.
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The Working Families Party executive director said his group paid $100,000 and disbanded its for-profit campaign arm in order to "put this nuisance lawsuit behind us." [Celeste Katz]
The shut-down of the for-profit arm will probably weaken WFP politically, "at least in the short term." [Liz Benjamin]