The labor-backed party uses its aggressive field operation to get its favorite candidates elected - then pushes them to vote its way on issues like paid sick leave for workers, higher taxes on the rich and tougher rent regulations.
It also operates a rent-a-campaign company, Data and Field Services, which sells its canvassing and voter turnout services to candidates it endorses.
Last week, the Campaign Finance Board said the two ought to be considered one and the same because they share an office and a staff, and "there are no apparent firewalls between them."
The organization is a lobbying and advocacy nonprofit group focused on the same goals as the party - but with far less scrutiny of what it spends and receives.
"The Working Families Organization works closely with the Working Families Party to advance progressive policies," said Dan Levitan, spokesman for both. "The Working Families Organization is involved in no campaign-related activity."
That line can get blurry, though, and hard to enforce - especially when the Working Families Organization spends money to push an issue that a Working Families Party-backed candidate supports.
"It seems to diffuse attention and obscure what's happening," said one independent observer. "They all share the same office space. They all come from the same space. They are all supported and are one and the same with the labor community."
The The Working Families Organization files an annual tax return to justify its nonprofit status, a release made every fall with little indication of where the previous year's money went.
It also shows up in city lobbying records, spending $14,209 last year for Levitan and the party's political guru, William Lipton, to lobby Mayor Bloomberg on a "resolution" - presumably the term-limits extension that Working Families tried to stop.
The organization's 2007 tax return - its most recent available, as provided by Levitan - shows it took in $658,000, almost all of it from unions. The largest by far was the national Service Employees International Union, donating $358,000.
The party spent $700,000, largely on "study and formulation of improved nonpartisan public policy through coordinated use of volunteers."
What does that mean? Who knows?
New York's campaign finance system is a persnickety watchdog, sometimes maddeningly so, but its goal is to let every New Yorker know exactly who is trying to buy its politicians' support.
Levitan says the party fully complies with the letter and spirit of the law. But as the Campaign Finance Board digs deeper, the organization's opaque balance sheets raise more questions than they answer.