In the months before the Nov. 6 elections, New York’s Senate Democrats received $25,000 from a mysterious group of five donors, with names like 2332 7 Ave L.L.C., 207 Silver Lane L.L.C. and 228 W 132 L.L.C.
The donors shared one address, at 223 West 138th Street in Manhattan — home to a real estate management firm with properties across Harlem and the rest of the city. Two more donors from the same address gave $20,000 to another Democrat: Letitia James, who was just elected New York attorney general.
The donations were made possible by a loophole in New York’s campaign finance law that, for more than 20 years, has allowed corporations to create limited liability companies for the sole purpose of giving virtually unlimited amounts of money to candidates.
The law treats limited liability companies as people, allowing each to donate up to $65,100 to every statewide candidate per election cycle — far more than the $5,000 aggregate contribution limit for corporations. Firms can create multiple L.L.C.s, effectively erasing any maximum.