Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Two Sets of Books

The indictment of Republican/Independence Part operative John Haggerty for stealing over a million dollars of the mayor's money, dramatizes the extent to which Bloomberg's promiscuous spending totally corrupts the democratic process. As City Room reports: "A top Republican political operative was charged on Monday by the Manhattan district attorney’s office with grand larceny, money laundering and three other counts in connection with accusations that he stole $1.1 million from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg during last year’s campaign."

The mayor, of course, comes off as Shaggy, singing his hit tune, "It Wasn't Me;" while, at the same time acting all high dudgeon that any one would have the temerity to question his lavish giving. As City Room tells us: "Mr. Bloomberg, though, was far pricklier when asked about the indictment at an event Monday morning at the Morgan Library and Museum, heralding the opening of a government initiative for new media innovation. Mr. Bloomberg first said that the district attorney had asked him not to speak about the case. “I have a right to make donations to parties that help this city and this state, and I’ll keep doing it,” he said."

But, as Wayne Barrett has already pointed out, the manner of his giving-at least in this regard-runs counter to the strict requirements of the election law. But why should these laws apply to him? As Barrett reported earlier in the year: ""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."

City Room weighs in on this as well-although without Barrett's razor sharp claws: "Mr. Vance stressed during the news conference that neither Mr. Bloomberg nor the Independence Party had been targets of the investigation. But when asked how it was possible that Mr. Bloomberg’s sophisticated and experience campaign team might have been the victim of fraud, Mr. Vance hinted at the cozy relationship between the campaign and Mr. Haggerty, a longtime Republican activist who has worked for Gov. George E. Pataki and many other officials and candidates. “They trusted him,” Mr. Vance said. “He was a trusted team member.”

Well, kumbaya ya'll-but what about the mayor's campaign culpability, Mr. Vance? Being stupid or gullible isn't a legal defense, is it? And didn't Bloomberg have enouugh dough to get some advice from a good campaign lawyer? But when your laying out $109 million for your third term, how can he be expected to follow these silly arcane election rules?

This all sounds to us like the Leona Helsmsley defense-and it calls for a more thorough investigation of the housekeeping account loopholes that the mayor drives his Brink's truck through. We all appreciate the extent to which the mayor believes that he is only being public spirited; but his contributory forays have a distinct self interested hue-and he should be limited so that his fortune can't play such an outsized and corrupting role. After all, Bloomberg's last campaign outlay north of a hunderd mil, turned out to be greater than the money spent by all of the other candidates combined.

As the NY Daily News reported: "Mayor Bloomberg didn't just spend more money on politics last year than anyone else in New York - he spent more than everyone else in New York. Hizzoner spent $109.9 million to get re-elected, while all other New Yorkers combined donated just $90.7 million to candidates and parties."

So when the mayor bristles and says the following: "I have a right to make donations to support people and parties that I think will help this city and this country and this state, and I’ll continue to do it,” we have a right to respond that he shouldn't be given that kind of carte blanche to pursue what has aleways been in the interest, not of the country, the city, or the state, but of Bloomberg himself-the cynosure of the special interests that normally roil the good government people-and the NY Times editorialists; but not when performed with such sublime grace, as so often is the case with our municipal hegemonist.