Bloomberg's Million-Dollar Ripoff

The mayor's 'crime'

For one thing, there's the fact that when the mayor launched his re-election committee, he had to sign a sworn candidate's form agreeing to do all his campaign spending via his designated committee, Bloomberg for Mayor 2009. And he did. Except where it suited him not to. When it came time to wire $1.2 million to the Independence Party so it could hire Haggerty to handle Bloomberg's election-day poll-watching chores, the mayor dipped into his personal account. Exactly why he did this remains a mystery. It was one of the questions that sent the mayor into his royal snit last week with reporters.

The most obvious explanation is secrecy. If the mayor did it through his campaign, the big-bucks contract would have been an instant news story since it would've been publicly disclosed just before voters hit the polls. It's easy to envision the headline, something along the lines of "Mayor Mike's Million Dollar Thank-You for Indy Party Endorsement."

By routing it through his own checking account, the mayor guaranteed that it would stay secret until mid-January, the party's next required public filing. That much of the scheme Haggerty was clearly involved in. In a note to Bloomberg's campaign staff cited in Vance's legal papers, Haggerty wrote that the payment for the operation should be funded with "a Housekeeping contribution that will not be reported until January 15, 2010."

Not that Mayor Mike needed help figuring that out. He did the exact same thing the year before, when he ran another million-plus dollars through his compliant friends at the Independence Party so that they could pay a secret Bloomberg campaign squad to work for Republican state senatorial candidates. Those payments didn't become public until weeks later. By then, only the Voice thought they were a big deal.

Right now, it's the Independence Party that's on the hot seat. Last week, the D.A. took the rare step of putting the party's lawyer in front of a grand jury to ask where the records are from this debacle. Party officials said they've already given what little they have. If so, it puts the spotlight back on City Hall. That's one more thing the billionaire media mogul who still nurtures White House dreams would rather not talk about.

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