How a Bill Becomes a Law … in Albany

In 2016, I spent several months working with campaign finance data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics, makers of FollowTheMoney.org, to trace the Albany money trail from LLCs and parking garages in New York City to upstate State Senate districts that serve as the battleground for control of the state legislature.

Control of the state legislature is a big deal for New York’s real estate industry, which for years has used loopholes in campaign finance laws to keep the State Senate in Republican hands. That gave real estate firms a check against pro-tenant Democrats in the State Assembly and ensured that state rent laws were not strengthened when they came up for renewal every four years.

My ProPublica colleague Derek Kraviz and I teamed up with The Real Deal’s Will Parker to piece together an expose of real estate money and influence using the Institute’s data. In June 2017, the Institute invited me to come to its annual conference in Montana to give a presentation on our months-long reporting and data analysis efforts. Here’s a copy of my presentation, and thank you to the Institute for the opportunity to present.