New York Daily News
Open books, Blaz!
Good gov’t group: Mayor ‘makes a mockery’ of laws
A GOOD government group lodged a complaint Monday seeking an investigation into Mayor de Blasio and the funding of his outside political groups.
Common Cause said de Blasio may be breaking the law in setting up and raising cash for the groups — Campaign for One New York and United for Affordable NYC — that were formed by his allies to push his agenda.
The groups, registered as nonprofits, have raised big bucks — much of it from donors who do business with the city — unbound by strict campaign finance limits on donations to individual candidates.
“It appears the mayor trades his public office for personal political advantage, and makes a mockery of the city’s long-followed public policy behind the campaign finance laws designed to avoid using monetary contributions to curry favorr with, and gain access to, public officials,” Common Cause Executive Directorr Susan Lerner wrote in a letter to the Conflicts of Interest Board and Campaign Finance Board.
The Campaign for One New York has brought in donations bigger than $250,000, with unions and real estate developers who need city approval for their priorities contributing. Big donors have included the United Federation of Teachers, District Council 37, and developers Two Trees and Toll Brothers.
Under regular campaign finance laws, those doing business with the city can’t contribute more than $400 to candidates for office.
The groups have been most active in pushing de Blasio’s pre-kindergarten and af- fordable housing agendas, and have also helped fund de Blasio’s national political activity.
“Common Cause/NY does not accept that dark money is a necessary function of the modern mayoralty,” Lerner wrote. “The mayor’s unprecedented use of 501 (c) 4 fund-raising has spawned a shadow government that raises serious questions about who has influence and access to the policymaking process.”
De Blasio defended the group’s approach, stressing that it discloses all its donors.
“It’s not dark money if it’s disclosed,” he said. “Disclosure is necessary in all things.”
He said his own involvement with the group has been precleared by the Conflicts of Interest Board.