New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivers his acceptance speech after being sworn in for a third term on the steps of City Hall on Jan. 1, 2010.
The Post called it a “Phantom” company. A Daily News headline read: “Mike Went Under Radar.”
Both newspapers were referring to a mysterious contribution by Mayor Bloomberg to his successful campaign for re-election last November.
News reporter Adam Lisberg said there was a shell company that ran his Election Day poll watching operation. This was paid for by the so-called Independence Party, which may be more dependent than its name implies. Dependent on our billionaire mayor.
The dependent Independents got 1.2 million dollars from Bloomberg. This wasn’t revealed until January -- and the contribution [in two installments] came after the election, near the end of last year. The company that received the money is called Special Election Operations. The firm had never been heard of previously -- and it wasn’t incorporated until December 3d of last year, a month after the election.
So what did this company do? There are contradictory reports. One version is that some of the money given to this company found its way to a political operative tied to the Mayor’s campaign, John Haggerty of Queens. He received, it’s reported, $750,000. One source said some of this money was used to pay poll watchers on Election Day. It’s also reported Haggerty used some of the money to finance the purchase of a house.
The Mayor’s campaign lawyer, Ken Gross, says the $750,000 was turned over to the Independence Party with the understanding that it would help go to the party for election day expenses, “such as poll watchers.” He said the Independence Party “has the full accounting, presumably, of how the money was spent.”
So much for transparency and accountability!
The Manhattan DA reportedly is investigating how Haggerty and the Independence Party handled this money and why they had some difficulty accounting for how they spent it.
Susan Lerner of Common Cause calls the episode “sordid.” She says: “The Mayor seems to think he can buy endorsements. But why he has to funnel his money through a political party is unclear to me. Under the recent Supreme Court decision, there is nothing to stop him from contributing as much as he wants to his own campaign.”
So there is an enduring mystery here: why the Mayor had to use the Independence Party to help finance his campaign.
Mysteries seem to abound in New York politics right now. Perhaps the mysteries in this case will be solved. But, in the meantime, the Independence Party [which is not so independent] seems unlikely to provide the answers.