Any politician that shells out $108 million to win a mayoral race should be precluded from warning about the dangers of unlimited campaign spending.
Of course that didn’t stop Mayor Michael Bloomberg from blasting City Council’s proposed reform bill on campaign finance law — a bill that Bloomberg says would corrupt future campaigns and roll back recent gains in campaign finance reform.
“This is just a blatant attempt by a handful of unions to get around [ the current law] and it is really not good for democracy,” Bloomberg said. “You are going to throw away all the improvements in campaign finance if you do this. There will be nothing left of it.”
The proposed reform would allow unions, corporations and other member organizations to spend unlimited amounts of money campaigning for a particular candidate — so long as those efforts are directed solely at the union or organization’s members and a corporation’s executive administration and stock holders.
“I think we have one of the best campaign finance laws in the country, and this is a big step backwards,” Amy Loprest, executive director of the New York City Campaign Finance Board, told NY1.
Loprest and other critics argue that the revision would allow unions and corporations to influence city elections in the same way that political action committees have come to influence federal-level elections.
In making such comparisons it’s important to note that the proposed reform only allows entities to do unlimited campaigning internally. The bill prohibits communication from spilling over to those outside the organizations — even though it’s unclear exactly how that rule will be enforced.
The reform mandates a somewhat vague requirement that an entity make “reasonable efforts to restrict the communication to its members, stockholders and executive or administrative personnel.”
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who supports the bill, pushed back the hearing on the revision, originally slated for tomorrow, to next week. The council is not expected to vote on the revision until next year.
Whether Bloomberg is valid in his condemnation of the law or not, the criticisms are coming from the same mayor who broke the record in 2010 for the most personally-financed spending on a political campaign in U.S. history. A “fair” election probably wouldn’t exclusively afford lavishly wealthy men the right to pump large amounts of money into their political campaigns.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 12, 2012