Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bloombucking and Ducking

Wayne Barrett really digs in on the Bloomberg's election three card monte game-picking up on Adam Lisberg's sharp reporting: "​Even Mike Bloomberg's lawyers say he broke election law when he gave $1.2 million to the Independence Party right before the November election. The mayor's media guru, Howard Wolfson, and his elections lawyer Ken Gross told the Daily News that Bloomberg's two, $600,000 personal checks to the party were used for poll-watchers, drivers, cellphones and food for election day. In their eagerness to account for the missing money -- most of which went to a mysterious, unincorporated firm now under investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance -- the two unwittingly admitted to an apparent violation of city and state campaign finance laws."

Is this even criminal? Well, it just might be-and Bloomberg gets indicted by his own lawyer, who argued in August that the money that Bloomberg poneyed up to all of the party bosses was exempt from campaign finance filings: "Gross argued in a 14-page response to Thompson that Bloomberg's "campaign committee is only required to report as expenditures those contributions it made to other committees for the purpose of furthering his re-election campaign." That was a good argument then -- since Gross was contending that the committees that got Bloomberg's personal largess didn't spend the money to benefit his campaign. Not so good now, however, when Gross concedes that Bloomberg's donation to the Independence Party was used precisely for that purpose."

Which means that: "Laurence Laufer, the attorney who filed the complaint for Thompson, says that there is a third legal issue, beyond the CFB and the housekeeping issues. Laufer says that even if Bloomberg chose to make the contributions personally, he still had to report them as a candidate to the city and state Board of Elections. Laufer says there's "a reporting obligation on the mayor's part" under section 14104 of the state election law even if, by some quirk, he was not required to report the donations to the finance board."

And if he didn't? ""If the expenditures were to aid the campaign," said Laufer, Bloomberg "had to report them either one way or the other," as a committee expenditure or the personal expenditure of a candidate. The section cited by Laufer makes it a Class A misdemeanor for "any candidate" not to file a sworn statement "as to all moneys paid, given or expended to aid his own nomination or election," and specifically includes "contributions to political committees."

A "Class A misdemeanor!" Who said that the mayor lacked class? And while we're ridding ourselves of politicians who commit misdemeanors, let's not simply stop in Jackson Heights/Corona. But Mike, you got some"splaining" to do. Something he appears to be loath to do.

As Daily Politics points out, the mayor has become more laconic than usual-lockjaw has set in: "Assessment Generally speaking, Mayor Bloomberg is a man who has opinions and is not at all reluctant to share them. But the usually voluble mayor was uncharacteristically mum today when it came to questions about both the management and spending (by a campaign volunteer) of his own money."

Maybe he'll be more forthcoming in front of a Grand Jury. Oh, we forgot, Bloomberg is held to a hire standard. He has hired everyone, so there no one left to testify against him. But we jest. This is all emblematic of the corrupting presence of vast wealth injected into a political system and finance structure that is ill-equipped to deal with its excesses. Maybe Cy Vance can do it.