Aaron Foldenauer for Mayor of New York City

Complaint Alleges that Non-Profits Put their Tax-Exempt Status in Jeopardy by Illegally Giving Free Publicity to Selected Mayoral Candidates

Aaron Foldenauer’s Complaint Filed with the New York City Campaign Finance Board Alleges that Online Candidate Forums Sponsored by Non-Profits and Corporations are Unlawful

NEW YORK, NY, May 11, 2021.  –  One mainstay of the ongoing race for Mayor of New York City are online “candidate forums,” or debates, which have been routinely hosted by various organizations across the City.

A complaint filed today with the New York City Campaign Finance Board by Aaron Foldenauer, a Candidate for Mayor, might upend this trend.

“These non-profits and corporations have been giving hundreds of thousands of dollars of free advertising to the same failed establishment candidates by inviting them to candidate forums,” said Aaron Foldenauer, Candidate for Mayor of New York City.  “The New York City campaign finance system was designed to level the playing field, but these organizations are unlawfully using their resources to stack the deck to benefit their favorite candidates.”

The problem, Foldenauer alleges, is that organizers of these candidate forums typically invite only the same small group of candidates who are favored by the political establishment.

“Campaign finance laws prohibit entities such as corporations and non-profits from contributing to political campaigns,” said Foldenauer.  “The reality is that corporations and non-profit organizations have been unlawfully propping up establishment candidates by giving them free publicity while freezing out non-establishment candidates from these online candidate forums.”

Aaron Foldenauer’s complaint alleges that corporations and non-profit organizations have made unlawful campaign contributions to Mayoral candidates by advertising and hosting online candidate forums where only some, but not all, candidates are invited.

Entities named by the Complaint as having given unlawful contributions to Mayoral candidates are: The New York City Hospitality Alliance, Warby Parker, AT&T, Tech:NYC, The 92nd Street Y, The Asian American Federation, City Harvest, and Columbia Law School.

“When well-financed gatekeepers like these corporations and non-profits allow only establishment candidates to be heard, there is no ability for outsiders to come to the table with new ideas that can save our City,” said Aaron Foldenauer.  “Not only is this wrong, but it is also illegal.”

Foldenauer’s Complaint also alleges that non-profit organizations that have sponsored online candidate forums might lose their tax-exempt status for failing to include all candidates in their online forums.

“Under the Internal Revenue Code, nonprofits are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in any political campaign,” said Aaron Foldenauer, who also is an attorney.  “Here, these non-profits have brazenly given free publicity and advertising to certain candidates for Mayor while excluding others.”

The Complaint names eight mayoral candidates who have illegally accepted unlawful “in-kind contributions” from corporations and non-profit organizations: Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer, Ray McGuire, Maya Wiley, Kathryn Garcia, Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, and Andrew Yang.

“The organizations sponsoring these forums are simply promoting the same candidates favored by the political elite,” said Aaron Foldenauer, a candidate for Mayor who also ran for City Council in 2017.  “These organizations are clearly too busy seeking attention and feathering their own nests rather than hearing new voices and new ideas.”

Foldenauer’s complaint alleges that the sponsoring organizations have often excluded him from the online forums, thus rendering them unlawful.  “If all candidates were invited, then there may be no campaign finance violation because every candidate would be given equal time,” said Foldenauer.

According to a recent poll, given the poll’s margin for error, Foldenauer is statistically tied with a number of the other candidates in the race, including Kathryn Garcia, Dianne Morales, Shaun Donovan, and Maya Wiley.

Foldenauer also made the point that it is the political establishment that has failed New York City, and thus, new ideas are more important than ever before.  “The failure to allow diverse political ideas is precisely why New York City is falling apart,” said Foldenauer.

“Look at what our broken political establishment has gotten us.  Riders are not safe in the subway.  Violent crime has doubled in the past year.  City residents are moving away for good,” said Foldenauer.  “Nothing is ever going to change if the only candidates allowed to express their ideas at these candidate forums are already political insiders.”

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Mayoral Candidate Aaron Foldenauer holds the top ballot spot in the crowded Democratic Primary in the race for Mayor of New York City.  Accordingly, he will be the first candidate listed on over one million Democratic Primary ballots that will be distributed across New York City between now and Election Day, June 22.

Aaron’s experience as a political advocate and a business litigator makes him uniquely qualified to become the next Mayor of New York City during these difficult times.  A Democrat and veteran of New York City politics, he previously ran for the New York City Council seat based in District 1, Lower Manhattan, where Mr. Foldenauer has lived for 15 years.

Aaron is an accomplished attorney and practiced at several leading law firms in New York City for over a decade.  More information about Aaron and his policies can be found at

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