NY Daily News
Mayor de Blasio’s presidential campaign is powered by donations rife with possible conflicts.
At least $370,000 in contributions to de Blasio 2020 are tied to people and entities with business or interests before the city, an analysis by the Daily News found.
The donations represent 34% of nearly $1.1 million that de Blasio’s campaign collected between May 16 and the end of June, according to filings with Federal Election Commission.
They came from individuals, corporations, limited liability companies and firms with vested interests in municipal operations and regulations, as well as donors who work for entities lobbying the de Blasio administration and relatives of those with business before the city.
Many are hotel workers and owners, attorneys, local real estate developers and others who stand to benefit from their generosity to de Blasio — or have already seen the fruits of their chummy relationship with Hizzoner.
The mayor has already faced multiple investigations into his fundraising practices, including whether his administration was favorable to donors and others with business before the city. Federal and state prosecutors eventually decided they wouldn’t charge de Blasio or his aides — but they still said he intervened on behalf of donors seeking favors from City Hall.
"The fact that Mayor de Blasio’s long shot presidential campaign is so heavily funded by individuals who have interests before the city is troubling, particularly because the mayor has a track record of favoring campaign donors,” said Betsy Gotbaum, executive director of good-government group Citizens Union. “New Yorkers should feel confident that policy decisions are made, and contracts are awarded, based on merit and not because and individual or entity has supported a politician’s campaign.”
Update from THE CITY:
Mayor Bill de Blasio spent more on his presidential run than he reported in federal campaign filings this week, an analysis by THE CITY found.
The extra support came out of a state political action committee de Blasio launched in 2018 to help New York Democrats — but which recently doubled as an exploratory committee for his presidential run.
The mayor’s NY Fairness PAC spent $68,000 on pre-campaign polling that wasn’t reported to the Federal Election Commission. The de Blasio campaign promised Thursday to amend its federal disclosures after THE CITY raised questions.
THE CITY identified another $55,000 that de Blasio’s state PAC paid to a firm that does digital fundraising and marketing. The campaign said that a portion of that expense will appear in a future federal filing.
The spending underscored what some experts called an unusual approach that taps a state PAC for presidential expenses amid strictly regulated federal spending and reporting rules for exploratory committees.
De Blasio’s set-up also allows his state PAC to collect donations that don’t get reported in his federal campaign filings — and don’t count toward the $2,800 contribution limit in the presidential primary.
That’s because de Blasio campaign officials categorized all the contributions to the state PAC as donations meant to help elect Democrats in New York State — not as support for his presidential run.
THE CITY identified 17 contributors who gave the max to de Blasio’s presidential run in the first half of 2019 while donating $2,500 each to his NY Fairness PAC. Meanwhile, the next public filings for de Blasio’s third fundraising arm — his federal Fairness PAC — aren’t due until July 31.
The mayor has benefited from donors like Queens real estate developer Michael Cheng, who gave $2,500 to the NY Fairness PAC on March 31. He told THE CITY he believed he was supporting de Blasio’s potential presidential run.
Around the same time, he hosted a fundraiser at his Flushing home to raise money for the mayor’s federal PAC. In June, he donated $2,800 to de Blasio’s 2020 presidential committee, FEC records show.
“He’s doing great things for the city,” Cheng said of de Blasio.
De Blasio campaign officials said they know of no donations to the state PAC that were intended to
support the mayor’s consideration of a White House run. They added the mayor had been clear in his fundraising pitches at the time.
“The mayor was consistent in his public and private comments: He wanted to ensure the issues affecting working families were in the national dialogue, and had not ruled out a run — but it would ultimately be a family decision,“ said campaign spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie.
His "private comments"? Is that suppose to be a defensive take on Hillary Clinton's notorious philosophical trope on having public and private positions exposed in the Podesta emails by Wikileaks?