Sunday, March 20, 2016

Surprise! de Blasio winds down nonprofit after ethics complaint, saying work is done

Remember how, as recently as December, Mayor Bill de Blasio defended donations to his nonprofit from developers and others doing business with the city by saying "it's entirely legal and it's disclosed"?

As the TImes reported 3/18/16, Nonprofit Linked to Mayor de Blasio Is Closing:
A nonprofit group created by close advisers to Mayor Bill de Blasio to push his political agenda, using unlimited contributions from donors, has stopped raising and spending money and is in the process of shutting down.
The group, known as the Campaign for One New York, had raised the ire of government watchdog organizations that said it created a “shadow government” of lobbyists and businesses with interests before City Hall, who gained access and influence through donations outside the purview of New York City’s strict campaign finance laws. Last month, one such organization, Common Cause New York, filed a formal complaint with the city requesting an investigation.


Also taking credit was True News blogger Gary Tilzer:

The explanation, and the aftermath

de Blasio claimed that the complaint did not prompt the closing, saying "the work is done," meaning the passage of universal pre-K and his affordable housing plan.

But, as the Times put it, the group's existence "had become something of a political liability for Mr. de Blasio, garnering unfavorable headlines about its fund-raising, which included hundreds of thousands of dollars from companies with business before the city, and its spending, much of it on political consultants with close ties to the mayor."

The remaining money in the Campaign for One New York has been going to two other mayorally-connected nonprofits United for Affordable NYC, and the Progressive Agenda, one local, one national. The former will be winding down, as well.

The New York Post, which reported his defense as "We followed ‘broken laws’," editorialized, One de Blasio slush fund down — more to come?, with scorn:
What CONY really did was let unions, real-estate execs, lobbyists and others doing city business kick in hundreds of thousands of dollars to the mayor’s machine that they couldn’t legally give to his campaign fund.
People like Steve Nislick and Wendy Neu — key figures behind the drive to kill the horse-carriage industry — who gave $100,000 after a top-level meeting on the issue.
All in all, the group raised $4.3 million — more than 75 percent of it from just 30 individuals or entitles, a Post analysis showed.
The Daily News editorialized that the city Conflicts of Interest Board had unwisely protected both de Blasio, by allowing the Campaign for One New York, and his predecessor, Mike Bloomberg, whose emails have been kept private.

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