Monday, June 01, 2009

Daily News Finds The City Council Colored With Money

As if we needed yet another reason for Clean Money, Clean Elections, the NY Daily News has highlighted the problem of money in politics at the level of the New York City Hall. The article won't surprise you, might not even shock you, but it is disappointing to anyone and everyone that believes those we elect to public office should make decisions based on what is best for their constituents and not just their campaign donors. Unfortunately, that is just not the case for many City Council members.

From The NY Daily News:

Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo got $33,500 from employees of a developer building a 600-unit apartment complex and shopping center in the Bronx.

Thirty-eight of the 51 Council members got some campaign cash from nonprofits to which they steered millions of dollars in taxpayer funding. The News found contributions of at least $200,000 from nonprofit employees and some board members in the last four years.

Nearly all the donations are legal, but special-interest donors often skirt the law by bundling checks from a company or corporation to raise more money. It is illegal for the bundler to repay the “donors” because that would mask the source of the funds.

Veteran lobbyist George Arzt and his colleagues at George Arzt Communications have given more than $23,000 to 17 Council members since 2005. He concedes that as long as people believe they need to contribute to have influence, the money will flow — and some pols will take advantage.

“There are elected officials who, believe it or not, will hand you [an invitation to] a fund-raiser when you leave their office [after a lobbying visit],” Arzt said. “I’m genuinely embarrassed when that happens."

After an extended blogging break, I'm back at keyboard ready to type. Though I'll probably post less in the coming months, I've felt less connected to the news I've read over the last three weeks so it is something I'll keep at.