Speed Reads

Playing politics

New York Democrat alleges his party is illegally funding his primary opponent

A Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in New York, Tim Wu, is suing his state's Democratic Party on the grounds that it illegally supported his opponent's primary campaign. Wu, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Breyer and coined the term "net neutrality," penned an op-ed for The Nation explaining his grievances:

The state Democratic Party that is running the primary (ostensibly to select the best candidate) is spending money — millions, by our estimates — to try to ensure that my opponent wins. [...] It is an obvious conflict of interest for the party to both run a primary and then provide aid to one side. That's why, back in 1911, the New York legislature made it illegal for political parties to spend money to influence the outcomes of their own primaries. Yet despite the illegality and ethical question, the Democratic Party in New York State keeps at it. [The Nation]

Wu has been critical of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who supports the other candidate for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, and has allegedly approved the party's funding of her campaign.

Wu says the New York Democratic Party's lawyers have cited the Citizens United decision from the Supreme Court in defense of their actions, a ruling he argues is not relevant — and which fellow Democrats in the U.S. Senate are working to reverse.