De Blasio’s ‘ordinary politics’ defense rings of Shelly Silver

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April 25, 2016

From the New York Post:

De Blasio’s ‘ordinary politics’ defense rings of Shelly Silver

Team de Blasio is answering charges that it massively broke state election laws by calling its fund-raising “ordinary politics.” Hmm: The last local to use that defense, ex-Speaker Sheldon Silver, will be sentenced for his crimes next month.

The memo from Risa Sugerman, chief enforcement counsel for the state Board of Elections, charges the mayor and his top aides went far beyond the usual tricks in trying to hand the state Senate to Democrats in 2014.

It alleges they used taxpayer time and taxpayer equipment for the schemes. “I don’t recall ever hearing or reading about anything like that — someone saying the mayor of New York [was] raising campaign funds right out of City Hall,” said veteran local political consultant Jerry Skurnik.

The memo also suggests the operation not only directed the cash to upstate county committees, but also told the committees what campaigns to send the funds to.

At a minimum, we still have the mayor, his chief political operative and his top fund-raiser soliciting individuals who do business with the city for donations to remote county committees. Why give, except to win favors from City Hall?

Mind you, the mayor has raised private funds to the tune of $40 million these last three years, when you include his various pocket nonprofits.

Questions about the giving belatedly prompted the mayor to shut down his pet nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York, this year — after Common Cause/NY asked the city Conflicts of Interest
Board and the Campaign Finance Board to look into it.

For years, de Blasio has been raising millions and directing the funds to his various causes — and then shuttling the cash around between multiple entities.

It may be that the 2014 shenanigans struck his team as “ordinary politics” because it was just another form of what had become ordinary to them. Will US Attorney Preet Bharara and Manhattan DA Cy Vance see it the same way?

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