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C. Virginia Fields Sued for Election Law Violations

The New York State Board of Elections has filed legal actions against two campaign committees created by former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields for her 2005 Mayoral race and her 2006 State Senate race.

Ms. Fields lost the Democratic Primary for Mayor in September 2005 and she dropped out of the State Senate race in June 2006.

By an Order to Show Cause filed February 22nd in Albany Supreme Court, the State Board of Elections is seeking a court order compelling the Fields campaigns to file required campaign finance reports and pay fines.

Although the two committees are separate entities, as a candidate Ms. Fields is ultimately responsible for the filing of the reports and for any fines. The law requires candidates to be notified separately of the lack of compliance and potential liability.

According to Board of Elections officials, if the committees have not been terminated, declared inactive, or still maintain a financial balance, they are required to comply with NYS Campaign Finance Disclosure rules. The latest filing, missed by Ms. Fields and the committees on January 15th, would show who made donations to the campaigns and how the money was spent.

The New York State Election Law states, "failure to file ... shall constitute prima facie evidence of a willful failure to file" and "any person who knowingly and willfully fails to file a statement ... shall be guilty of a misdemeanor."

If the reports are not filed by the court return date in late March, the fines may be increased.

Excerpts from the New York State Election Law:

§ 14-108. Time for filing statements.

5. The state board of elections or other board of elections, as the case may be, shall not later than ten days after the last day to file any such statement notify each person required to file any such statement which has not been received by such board by such tenth day in accordance with this article of such person's failure to file such statement timely. Such notice shall be in writing and mailed to the last known residence or business address of such person by certified mail, return receipt requested. Failure to file within five days of receipt of such notice shall constitute prima facie evidence of a willful failure to file. If the person required to file such statement is a treasurer who has stated that the committee has been authorized by one or more candidates, a copy of such notice shall be sent to each such candidate by first class mail. A copy of any such notice sent by a board of elections other than the state board of elections shall be sent by such other board to the state board.

§ 14-126. Violations; penalties.

2. Any person who knowingly and willfully fails to file a statement required to be filed by this article within ten days after the date provided for filing such statement or any person who knowingly and willfully violates any other provision of this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.