NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In what amounted to a slap in the face for Mayor Bill de Blasio, there was a demand Wednesday for City Council action to close fundraising loopholes.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the Campaign Finance Board said the way de Blasio raised money raised serious perception issues of a pay-to-play culture.
De Blasio escaped penalties for using a nonprofit to raise money for his political agenda. But in a scathing assessment, the Campaign Finance Board deemed that the loophole used by the mayor may be closed.
“The Campaign for One New York plainly raises serious policy and perception issues,” said Campaign Finance Board Chair Rose Gill Hearn. “More than 95 percent of the funds it received would have been prohibited under laws that apply to candidates for office, including contributions from corporations, limited liability companies, and people doing business with the city.”
That was the assessment for Mayor de Blasio’s decision to use his nonprofit Campaign for One New York to raise more than $4 million to further his political agenda. The same nonprofit is now under investigation by state and federal prosecutors who are questioning whether donations came from people seeking, and receiving, favors from City Hall.
“Most contributions exceeded the limits applicable to candidates, and at least a dozen were as large as $100,000,” Hearn said.
The city’s present contribution limit is $4,950. For contributors doing business with the city, the limit is just $400.
The Campaign Finance Board called on the City Council to set the same contribution limits for nonprofits such as de Blasio’s Campaign for One New York. The board was ruling on a complaint by Common Cause, which said de Blasio’s committee “spawned a shadow government” and brought back pay-to-play.
“We want the City Council to close the loophole,” said Susan Lerner of Common Cause. “An elected official who had the advantage of our excellent campaign finance system, able to use public dollars to get elected in the future, should not be permitted to collect checks of over $1,000.”
Meanwhile, the Citizens Union wants the City Council to make nonprofit fundraising committees subject to campaign finance laws.
“What the mayor has done is really undercut the intent of taking money out of politics,” said Dick Dadey of the Citizens Union. “He brought back a pay-to-play culture.”
And in another jab at the mayor, the Citizens Union wants so-called “agents of the city” to file financial disclosure statements.
A City Council spokesman said he expected some type of action this year. A spokesman for de Blasio said he was “pleased,” apparently because no penalties were meted out.