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Another week, another complaint about de Blasio’s fundraising

ICYMI (and you probably did), Mayor de Blasio’s presidential campaign has come to an end. But running for office is known to have consequences that go beyond the campaign, especially for the candidates themselves.

The Federal Election Commission recently wrote a letter to the mayor’s presidential campaign detailing multiple complaints of campaign finance violations. According to a July filing, de Blasio’s camp owed over $53,000 to the NY Fairness PAC (which was created and controlled by the mayor.) Legally, PAC transfers to a candidate are limited to $5,000, the FEC said, meaning that de Blasio’s presidential campaign took over 10 times the permissible amount.

After first arguing that the $53,000 was a loan, De Blasio’s office repaid the money the same day the official letter was received, and the mayor blamed some of his lawyers for suggesting the approach in the first place. Also on that day, the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) announced that it settled with three donors of a nonprofit run by de Blasio – the Campaign for One New York – which was being investigated for unethical fundraising.

The kicker though? Shortly after all that happened, Bill de Blasio announced his last presidential policy proposal: campaign finance reform.

In other news:

  • Is Assemblymember Michael Blake an elected official, a lobbyist, or a consultant? Did he somehow manage to become all three at the same time? The Times Union recently noted an arrangement that blurred the lines. In 2015, Blake introduced a bill Airbnb had been pushing. Airbnb paid Hilltop Solutions, a lobbying firm, to help push the bill. Blake just so happened to be a political consultant at Hilltop Solutions. “In other words: In 2015, Blake was being paid by Hilltop; Airbnb was paying Hilltop; and Blake introduced legislation Airbnb had been pushing.” Is there wrongdoing? It’s impossible to see – for all we know, Blake may have had no interactions at Hilltop that alerted him to Airbnb’s efforts. But in the words of Common Cause’s Susan Lerner, “It has the appearance of a conflict of interest.”
  • For the second year in a row, each of NYC’s 59 community boards has been granted a $42,500 budget, with a new ban on spending the money on vehicles after a Williamsburg board used $26k in taxpayer money to buy an SUV. However, two NYC community boards recently gave money to nonprofits run by their members, which may violate city ethics rules. When asked about it, both board members in question – Hakiem Yahmadi of the Bronx and Georgiette Morgan-Thomas of Manhattan – seemed surprised that this was an issue and denied that the use of the money was problematic.
  • And now for some good news: Voting in NYC may just have gotten a little easier. For one, Governor Cuomo just signed a new bill that gives voters until February 14 to enroll in a party to vote in the April presidential primary or the June congressional and state primary (previously, you had to be registered up to a full year before the primary.) And, after a brief glitch, the BOE website now shows where you can show up for early voting on October 26 for the November 5 elections.
  • And, last but not least, our new website is now live!

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