Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Susan Lerner: De Blasio Just Followed In Cuomo's Campaign Fundraising Footsteps

Ever since somebody leaked a "report" written by a Cuomo hack at the Board of Elections alleging Mayor Bill de Blasio and people close to him circumvented campaign finance law in trying to win the state Senate for Democrats in 2014, de Blasio has been getting hammered in the press as the second coming of Boss Tweed.

Cuomo is thought to be behind the writing of the damning "report" that was sent to the Manhattan D.A. and the U.S. Attorney for criminal referral and the leaking of it to the press to do maximum damage to his "friend" de Blasio, whom he wants to see knocked off next year when the mayor's up for re-election.

One of the most frustrating parts of the coverage of the de Blasio campaign finance mess is that both Michael Bloomberg and Andrew Cuomo have acted in similar ways yet never took the heat de Blasio's getting over the fundraising.

I wrote a little about Michael Bloomberg and his shenanigans with the Independence Party here so you can see how Bloomberg played fast and loose with campaign finance, bribed individual members of the Independence Party for three election cycles and used the party to launder money to be used for illicit purposes during the 2009 election cycle.

Bloomberg himself was exonerated of any misdeeds by Manhattan D.A. Vance but alas, the operative who was helping Bloomberg to launder the money (and instead stole it) was charged and convicted of a crime.

Somehow in all the de Blasio news, the Bloomberg/Independence Party shenanigans never got mentioned.

Gee, imagine that.

Bloomberg was not the only New York political figure to play fast and loose with the law - Andrew Cuomo has done so as well.

Susan Lerner of Common Cause took to the NY Daily News to set the record on Cuomo's own campaign fundraising games that look an awful lot like Bill de Blasio's:

Much of the scrutiny trained on de Blasio feels selective — because the aggressive fundraising tactics of other politicians, particularly Gov. Cuomo, paralleled and in many ways paved the way for what the mayor would go on to do.

First, let's review the facts:

In 2011, the governor set up an entity called the Committee to Save New York, a tax-exempt, 501(c)4 non-profit group that could raise unlimited amounts of money without disclosing its donors. Cuomo and his allies deliberately created the committee in such a way as to sidestep disclosure requirements.

Before closing in the spring of 2013, the committee would go on to raise $17 million and spend in excess of $10 million in furtherance of the governor's agenda, mostly on advertising. At the time Common Cause New York, the group I lead, was highly critical of the private, "independent" political advocacy organization, mainly because of the potential for conflict that such secrecy breeds.
Some donors voluntarily disclosed their involvement — and just about all of them, gambling and real estate interests in particular, had business before the state, and millions upon millions of dollars at stake in the decisions Cuomo made.

Flash forward. The year after Cuomo's Committee to Save New York shut its doors, de Blasio launched a group clearly inspired by it — the Campaign for One New York.

Same idea, same problem: Private interests closely tied to an elected official funding what was essentially a shadow campaign operation, and millions of dollars from businesses, unions and others flowing in, in excess of the limits we impose on direct campaign giving. (One important way in which de Blasio's campaign was less nefarious than Cuomo's committee: the names of donors were disclosed, allowing he press and the public to dig into potential conflicts.)

After much scrutiny, and a formal complaint from Common Cause New York, the mayor finally shut the campaign down this March.

Lerner's not defending de Blasio's campaign fundraising games, just pointing out that they're very similar to Cuomo's.

The governor's office received a subpoena in the Buffalo Billion Project probe from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on Friday, so Cuomo's starting to get some heat over corruption, but there's still precious little mention that if de Blasio's dirty for his Campaign for One New York, then Cuomo's dirty for his Committee To Save New York.

Thankfully Lerner is setting the record straight in the Daily News today.

Read the whole piece.

Lerner shows just how corrupt the whole system is in New York and how everybody - everybody - takes advantage of it.

1 comment:

  1. Where is the investigation in State Senate Republicans? Review SRCC filings and look at the filings of individual senators. Once you get past all the personal expenses covered by the campaign committees (cars, phones, food, etc) look at who donated money and how senators then sent the money on to various other committees. How is this any different than what Mayor Bill did?