The City Council’s phony slap at de Blasio’s scummy fund-raising | NY Post Editorial
December 14, 2016
Hand a much-ado-about-nothing award to the City Council, which on Thursday will pretend it’s dealing a fatal blow to corruption with new campaign-finance laws.
The truth? These bills won’t make a dent in corruption — or even improve a campaign-finance system ripe for abuse.
Take the ban on donors with business before the city giving more than $400 to groups controlled by public officials. It’s supposedly a slap at the sleaze made infamous by the Campaign for One New York, which targeted donors seeking City Hall favors.
But only a symbolic slap. Another slush fund can skirt the ban simply by not referring to the official who runs it in its “communications.” Or by getting the (mayorally appointed) Conflicts of Interest Board to say a donor doesn’t do business with the city, even if he does. Or by publicly distancing itself from a pol whose water it still carries.
The bills also ban public matching funds for gifts “bundled” by lobbyists. Expect the lobbyists to get around that, too.
Bottom line: These tweaks won’t curb de Blasio-style (or any other) corruption. Nor will they make the city’s campaign-finance system fair — or even sensible.
Unions will continue to enjoy a deck stacked in their favor. And crafty pols will keep gaming the system.
On Thursday, the Campaign Finance Board will slap Bill de Blasio with big fines for abuses in his 2013 mayoral run, but he’ll still be mayor. Meantime, taxpayers shelled out a hefty $38 million in matching funds these past four years.
If the council really wants to curb corruption, it’s better off scrapping the public campaign-finance system itself.
Michael Benjamin
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