11:45 am Jun. 6, 2012
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Comptroller John Liu, all of whom are running for mayor in 2013, have made their disdain for corporate spending in politics clear.
But though all three have criticized the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which essentially allowed unfettered corporate and union spending in politics, they have said nothing about the news that Governor Andrew Cuomo directed gambling-industry funds to a pro-Cuomo lobbying group in December, the same month he endorsed the expansion of casino gambling in New York State.
The following month, he endorsed the $4 billion convention center project of one particularly generous contributor, Malaysian gambling giant Genting, in his State of the State address.
Yesterday, a progressive organization called Community Voices Heard called for a state investigation into the governor's relationship with the pro-Cuomo lobby, the Committee to Save New York.
De Blasio, who goes way back with the governor, has been particularly outspoken on the role of corporate money in politics.
In 2010, he founded the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending, a bipartisan group of elected officials that seeks to reduce corporate involvement in elections in the wake of the Citizens United Case.
In January of this year, de Blasio launched a grassroots effort with various good-government groups and the City Council's Progressive Caucus urging citizens to send letters to the S.E.C. demanding new political spending disclosure rules.
"I am launching this effort because as Public Advocate it is important that I help give citizens the opportunity to voice their contempt for corporate spending in our elections and effect change,” said New York Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, in a statement.
In May of this year, he unveiled 6 Degress of Wal-Mart, a website that tracks Walmart's "web of secret spending" in support trade groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
It should be noted, the pro-Cuomo Committee to Save New York is not technically a super PAC of the sort that have grown out of the Citizens United decision and which the governor, de Blasio, Quinn, and Liu say they oppose. (Here's a useful Michael Gormley piece on the semantical differences.)
But, with the committee's ability to raise unlimited sums of money, much of which is used to support the agenda of the governor, it does bear a resemblance.
"They may not be a super PAC, but in reality, they are not different," the New York Public Interest Research Group's Bill Mahoney told Gormley.
Given his staunch opposition to Citizens United and corporate spending in politics, Capital asked de Blasio if he had any thoughts on the Cuomo-Genting news. He declined comment.
Quinn, who supported a resolution condemning the Citizens United decision, also declined comment.
Liu, who made much of his effort to convince Sprint Nextel to disclose its political spending in the wake of Citizens United, also declined comment.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, former Comptroller Bill Thompson, and Manhattan Media C.E.O. Tom Allon haven't said much on the issue of Citizens United, and all but Allon declined comment.
"I am personally not a fan of the government being in the business of gambling because it's essentially a regressive tax," he said, in an email. "That said, I don't see any problem with Genting donating money to a private political committee. This is legal and transparent and I take the Governor at his word that it did not influence his decision on this."
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