Observers of New York City’s political scene have noted for a while how Bloomberg had a tendency to cross the streams of his political office, his philanthropies and his political agendas. To some extent that’s not unusual in politics. Politicians find ways to send taxpayer money to groups that they support. And they use that money to buy votes.
But Bloomberg tended to take that to a whole new level, mixing his private donations and the city’s public donations for a potent combination of political influence that bought him support from some troubling places, including the Newman cult, and pushed his agenda. And most people still didn’t pay much attention.
But Mayors Against Illegal Guns takes that to a whole new level. Bloomberg has created his own private Anti-NRA group using city resources and backed by his own personal fortune.
The precedent is troubling because cities and states generally did this kind of lobbying as secondhand support, passing along money to non-profits that did the actual campaigning. But instead of plowing money into an anti-gun group disguised as gun violence prevention grants, Bloomberg is just running his own national organization out of New York City government.
In its own way it is every bit as problematic as Obama’s abuses.
Mayor Bloomberg is spending city cash and resources on his pet project to toughen US gun laws through his national organization, The Post has learned.
City employee Christopher Kocher was sent to Nevada as a representative of Mayors Against Illegal Guns to lobby for a bill that enforces background checks on all firearm sales in that state.
But Kocher, who works as a special counsel to the mayor’s office, apparently didn’t want his role to be known and scrubbed his City Hall e-mail address from the state of Nevada lobbying-registration Web site early this month.
“It doesn’t seem kosher to me,” said Gene Russianoff of the New York Public Interest Research Group.
The billionaire mayor has dumped his own money into the advocacy group, his primary vehicle for promoting stronger gun-control laws around the country.
A Bloomberg aide argued that city governments frequently lobby state and national leaders to push legislation related to the city’s well-being for issues ranging from mass transit to health care.
But Russianoff said Nevada isn’t in the same league as Albany and Washington, which have direct connections to what happens in New York City.
“They deal with jurisdictions that have sway over our future, and Nevada does not,” he said.
Sources say MAIG staffers are using the ninth floor of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services at 253 Broadway to advance the causes of the mayor’s fund.
Domain names for the group’s Web site were registered by the New York City Department of Information and Technology, Politico reported last week. The sites have remained on official city Web servers since 2006.
A City Hall spokesperson argued the coalition was able to use city resources because gun control is in the best interests of the city.
That’s an open door of an excuse. Everyone thinks their own causes are in the best interest of everyone. But that doesn’t give mayors the authority to begin playing national games using local budgets.
Bloomberg is explicitly using his position as leverage to pursue a national agenda and he’s using the funds of a cash strapped city that has closed firehouses to do it.
But political insiders can’t understand why Bloomberg would use city resources to advance his interests when he has near-unlimited personal wealth on this issue.
“With Bloomberg, one of his strengths is that, because money is no object, he could just go rent office space,” a city lobbyist said.“It seems like they’re being sloppy.”
He’s not being sloppy. Bloomberg is being some combination of arrogant, frugal and cynical. The power of Mayors Against Illegal Guns comes from the mayors part. Without that it’s just a billionaire screaming about rednecks and their guns. Without city resources, the whole thing looks like what it is, a toy project by a bored liberal.