A watchdog group is calling for an investigation into the Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit created by the political team of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Common Cause New York, the watchdog, issued a complaint calling for an investigation into whether the nonprofit violated campaign finance or conflict of interest laws due to donations it has received from companies seeking to do business in New York City.
The complaint states that money to the nonprofit, which has been characterized as a "political fund" and part of a "political campaign," comes mainly from companies that do business in New York City, raising concerns that the nonprofit may be part of a pay-to-play scheme.
The complaint reads:
Information provided to the press and in disclosures filed with New York State indicate that the funding for what is variously termed "a political campaign" (New York Times), "a political fund" (Politico New York) or an "organization created by Mayor de Blasio’s political team" (New York Daily News) comes primarily from entities which do business with the City of New York, including unions and companies in various industries including real estate, taxi companies and waste management. Reported contributions include contributions that range from $10,000 to $250,000 or more – far exceeding the limits in New York City’s well-regarded campaign finance law. New York City’s campaign finance law is designed to moderate the corrosive impact of large campaign contributions on elected officials. New York City’s interest in avoiding "pay to play" politics is so strong that, since 2007, it prohibits those who do business with New York City from contributing more than $400 in campaign contributions to City candidates.
We believe that the Mayor’s direct involvement with the Campaign for One New York raises troubling questions regarding the legality of his conduct under New York City’s conflict of interest and campaign finance laws. While the Mayor’s actions have been widely criticized in the press, there has to date been no official investigation into the legality of this conduct, through which it appears the Mayor trades his public office for personal political advantage, and makes a mockery of the city’s long-followed public policy behind the campaign finance laws designed to avoid using monetary contributions to curry favor with, and gain access to, public officials.