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Monday, June 14, 2010

Bloomberg's Buyer's Remorse?

Monday morning brought the news that a prominent New York City Republican campaign operative (of which there are few) for Mayor Mike Bloomberg was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on charges including grand larceny for deceiving Bloomberg into paying him about $750,000 for get out the vote efforts on Election Day.

Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance stresses that Bloomberg is not under investigation. However, the state Independence Party (which received funds from Bloomberg and then paid the operative, John Haggerty) is under investigation.

This investigation was sparked by some intrepid reporting by the New York Post's David Seifman a few months ago.

One quick thought: the case is being called a case of grand larceny (the main charge) but the corporate lawyer in me sees this as a possible breach of contract and possible fraud.

There are questions as to why the state Independence Party was involved in such get out the vote efforts. The party reportedly kept a portion of the $1.1 million it was paid by Bloomberg and did not pass it all on to the operative.

Questions: why did the Bloomberg campaign seem content with the operative's work and not raise questions, until the Post started asking questions? Did the campaign throw this operative under the bus? Did prosecutorial scrutiny spark campaign dissatisfaction that wasn't originally there? Perhaps there have been other questions raised which are not being made public.

Why did the Independence Party "stonewall" the DA's investigation, as Vance claims?

Just speculation, but the Independence Party's need (or desperation) to keep ballot status (so it needs a gubernatorial candidate to get 50,000 votes on its line to stay a party under state election law) may have motivated its leadership (under its state chair, Frank MacKay) to do get out the vote efforts for Bloomberg for which it assumed Bloomberg would pay, and pay well. (This has been documented widely over the years. See various stories by Tom Robbins in the Village Voice.)

One has to know the mechanics -- as opposed to the people, who are interchangeable and fungible -- to understand the possible motives and agendas at play. Asking the "why" question may solve the questions of whether there was a crime, and if so, whodunit?

Eric Dixon is an investigative lawyer in New York who is experienced in complex investigations and election law. He is not involved in representing any individual or entity involved in this case. He can be reached at 917-696-2442 for comment.

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