4:43 pm Oct. 19, 2012
Public Advocate Bill Blasio and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, both of whom are planning runs for mayor next year, don't like Michael Bloomberg's new super PAC, even if he's using it to support people they agree with.
"I just think he has a proclivity to always turn to the use of more money, and I'd like to see that weeded out of our political system," said de Blasio, whom Mother Jones once dubbed the "Citizens United avenger," for his outspoken criticism of the Supreme Court decision allowing unfettered corporate and union spending in elections.
This week, Bloomberg announced that he was forming and funding a $10 to $15 million super PAC to influence these November elections.
And today, the mayor indicated this was merely a test run for an even better-funded effort once he leaves office in 2014.
Bloomberg said he's focusing his efforts on candidates he deems centrist nonpartisans willing to buck party orthodoxy, particularly on same-sex marriage, gun control and education reform.
Thus far, he's indicated no interest in spending super PAC money on local races, but it's something that at least one mayoral candidate fears.
Yesterday, former comptroller Bill Thompson, who lost a close race to Bloomberg in 2009 after being outspent more than 10 to 1, told Capital he hopes he has no interest in running against Bloomberg's money again.
Asked about that today, de Blasio said if the mayor were to decide to pour money into next year's election, it would be a "huge mistake."
"People in this city do not want to see their elections bought," de Blasio said. "And there's still resentment about the way he used money in 2008 and 2009. If he does that, you'll see an immense amount of resentment directed at him and whoever he supports."
Stringer's take: "I think the Citizens United decision is unfortunate, and I think it's gonna pollute the political process, even money with good people. When there's too much money, it just creates an impossible situation."
Bloomberg isn't officially supporting any of the prospective 2013 contenders, but he is most closely allied with Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Quinn had a similar general take on what's wrong with super PACs, although she suggested that the criticism wouldn't necessarily apply to one that was funded by Bloomberg.
Asked at a press conference earlier today about it, she said, "That's a challenging question, super PACs, right. It's a way for entities—I mean the mayor is kind of a different situation—often ways for entities outside of individuals to push their agenda. I think one of the problems with super PACs right now is the rulings that relates to corporations being people, right? The idea of a bunch of individuals getting together and forming a super PAC to make their opinion felt is one thing. A super PAC that is largely funded by corporate interests about protecting corporate interests is another thing, you know, all together. So, for me, the question is a little bit hard to answer at this moment of time because of that 'corporations are people too' ruling."
--additional reporting by Azi Paybarah
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