Despite Bloomberg PR guy Jason Post’s recent denial, I’ve been trying to determine if Wal Mart has given any money to Mayors Against Illegal Guns. After three or four hours I’m no closer than you’ve gotten. Wal-Mart is a closely held corporation and they don’t have to tell anybody anything if they don’t want to. Meanwhile, I’m starting to put together (or maybe I’ve just gathered the puzzle pieces) how incestual and and possibly corrupt Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-gun finances are. This is extremely complex, and I’m discovering just how prepared I am to NOT be Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein.
I’ve been digging for a couple-three hours, and honestly I don’t do my best work at 6:30 on a Saturday morning. I also mentioned that in law school I barely passed “Accounting for Lawyers” which was kind of like “Quantum Physics for Place Kickers”, so far outside my strengths did that subject lie. The first few paragraphs below are a summary of what I’ve found, and of my limited ability to put it all together. Below the second break is my source material and attributions. You might want to use the quote from the Auditor’s Notes that shows MAIG has only one or two significant donors. Here we go . . .
Despite portraying itself as a broad-based coalition of local mayors, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns seems to be almost purely a Michael Bloomberg production. The tax records themselves don’t say it, but a convergence of those and other records indicates that almost ALL of MAIG’s money comes from Bloomberg’s own pocket. This isn’t corrupt, although it is dishonest when MAIG implies that it has broad-based support.
The corruption starts when the mayor runs his personal and political agendas out of Gracie Mansion, using his City-paid Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris as the CEO of his family foundation, and his city-paid Special Advisor Arkadi Gerney as the CEO of his personal anti-gun vendetta, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Gerney is also the CEO of the anti-gun lobbying group “Americans For Safe Streets”, of which Bloomberg is the major contributor.
And how, amidst the astronomically-high rents of downtown New York City, does MAIG get by on $500 per month in rent? Is this because MAIG’s business is run primarily out of the Mayor’s government offices? Is MAIG illegally using a rent-controlled property as its offices? This is why Rep. Charles Rangel is facing a public ethics trial in the House of Representatives.
Mayor Bloomberg has been heavily financing political races in other states. He recently poured $500,000 into an anti-gun media buy against the Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial candidate, and I think it’s fair to wonder whether Mayors Against Illegal Guns is using its money to campaign against pro-gun mayors. Considering Bloomberg’s anti-gun agenda and his staggering personal hypocrisy, it would be no surprise if Mayors Against Illegal Guns were to actually be ‘Anti-Gun Mayor (Bloomberg) Against Pro-Gun Candidates.’
Thanks to the Citizens United case, this is all legal, no matter how badly it stinks. We challenge MAIG to release its complete list of donors and the amounts they gave. If it’s really a broad-based coalition, it can prove it by releasing its donor list. If they keep stonewalling us, we can safely assume that it’s another Astroturf PAC, masquerading as a public movement.
Sources & Attributions:
Here are some facts that are coming together. As of 2009, MAIG’s taxes are handled by Geller & Co., the NYC accounting firm that also handles the Mayor’s Bloomberg Family Foundation. As of the 2008 filing, Hizzonor’s foundation had more than 1.5 billion dollars in assets.
You had mentioned that Bloomberg seems to run a lot of his personal business out of the mayor’s office, and here’s some support for that: the CEO of the Bloomberg Family Foundation is none other than Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris. Even the New York Times thinks this is a little hinky:
But back to MAIG: the treasurer of MAIG is Diane Rizzo, who is also manages the tax records for the Bloomberg Family Foundation. Cronyism, much? The aforementioned Jason Post, MAIG’s sole press contact, works full-time for the Mayor as a press officer. How does he distinguish between working on the public dime and MAIG’s nickel when he does both at the same time?
MAIG’s 2008 tax return lists one Arkadi Gerney of NYC as its CEO. Gerney is also the mayor’s ‘special advisor’, and also runs the anti-gun lobbying group “Americans United For Safe Streets.” Guess who is the primary donor to “Americans United For Safe Streets?” Yup. Mayor Bloomberg. Other donors gave a few hundred bucks, but Hizzonor gave half a million. Gerney also gives away $1500 of his own money to “Americans United For Safe Streets.”
The news just broke yesterday (10/29) that Bloomberg gave $500,000 for a huge anti-gun media buy in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race. He used his billions to lease Gracie Mansion, and he’s using it to buy races in other states too.
But here’s as close as I’ve gotten yet to a smoking gun: Bloomberg himself seems to be the only major donor to “Mayors Against Illegal Guns.” MAIG reported exactly $735,000 in donations for 2007, and nearly $2.4 million in 2008. and The Auditor’s Notes following MAIG’s 2008 tax return state the following:
During the year ended December 31, 2008, the Fund received $1,700,000 or approximately 76% of the contribution and grant revenue reflected in the accompanying statement of activities from one donor. A second donor contributed approximately $500,000 or approximately 22% of the contribution and grant revenue for the year ended December 31, 2008. Contributions receivable at December 31, 2008 are receivable within the next year.
During the period from April 9, 2007 (date of incorporation) to December 31, 2007, the Fund received $725,000, or approximately 99% of the contribution and grant revenue reflected in the accompanying statement of activities, from one donor.
I found that www.campaignmoney.com has *some* data for who gives what to which PACs and 527s. It shows that Bloomberg was the ONLY major contributor to MAIG for the 2008 elections.
The dollar figures there don’t reconcile with the 2008 tax return, but together they do point to the conclusion that there’s only one major donor to MAIG: Bloomberg himself.
And here’s some payroll data from the NYC mayor’s office:
Arkadi Gerney was paid $114,000 a year (in 2007) as an ‘administrative manager’ for the Mayor’s Office. Gerney is a 1998 graduate of Harvard Law School, who passed the New York bar exam in 2003.
And just a few lines above Gerney’s salary, we see that a Brian Geller earned $77,000 per year as a “Special Assistant.” How much will you wager that this Mr. Geller is related to the Geller & Co. accounting firm that handles all the rest of the Mayor’s business?
In short, we get a picture of a lobby group with no real claim to public support controlled by—and for—one man: Mayor Michael Bloomberg.