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Thursday, February 7, 2013

de Blasio's Campaign Contributions "Stinks To High Heaven,” Says Campaign Finance Watchdog

Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, has been taking donations to pay off 2009 campaign debts from donors who have already exceeded the maximum permissible amount to his current campaign for mayor, the NY Times reports.

The Times counted about two dozen individuals and unions that have given Mr. de Blasio’s 2013 campaign $4,950, the most allowed under New York City’s public financing system, have then turned around and given him more for his 2009 race, which has been in debt. In some instances, state records show, the donors, as well as their spouses, have given to the 2013 and 2009 campaigns on the same day.

The practice is unusual because the donations to the 2013 and 2009 campaigns came so close together, and some donors to his 2009 effort only started giving after that race had concluded and it was clear de Blasio would run for mayor, noted Azi Paybarah in his daily briefing.

“It stinks to high heaven,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, a campaign finance watchdog in DC. “Clearly people are being solicited and are giving to these politicians in the hope that it will be noticed and they will get something — access and influence — in exchange for that donation.”

Mr. de Blasio campaign defended the campaign’s practice as routine and noted that any money raised to settle the 2009 account cannot be used in for the current race. “Like many campaigns, we are forced to raise and spend money to deal with obligations arising out of our 2009 campaign, while also raising money for the current campaign,” said Dan Levitan, a campaign spokesman. “This is standard practice and adheres to New York City’s strict campaign finance laws.”

There is nothing illegal about this practice, writes Adam Martin in the NY Magazine. Hence, its particularly interesting that de Blasio is the candidate who's taking advantage of the opportunity to shell out more than the $4,950 maximum. The Times previously described de Blasio as "a passionate voice on the homeless and housing issues," and "a strong supporter of government transparency and changes in campaign finance rules."

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