When Mayor Bloomberg funneled $750,000 to a longtime Queens ally last fall, he thought he was buying a citywide poll watching operation.
He may have paid for a house in Forest Hills Gardens, too.
The house was the childhood home of John Haggerty Jr., the Republican operative who has claimed he was working as a volunteer on Bloomberg's third-term campaign.
Haggerty has ducked calls to explain how he spent the $750,000 payment, which went into his newly formed "Special Election Operations LLC."
The money was channeled through the state Independence Party, which got $1.2 million from Bloomberg's pocket right before Election Day.
Sources inside and outside the Bloomberg campaign say it was supposed to buy an extensive Election Day operation, with up to 300 workers paid $500 each to make sure there was no funny business at poll sites.
That only adds up to $150,000, though. One source says the Independence Party can't account for $300,000 to $400,000 of the rest of the money - and has drawn up legal papers against Haggerty to locate the rest.
"It's just infuriating," the source said. "Haggerty probably made money throughout the campaign one way or another."
Special Election Operations got its $750,000 on Dec. 11.
Six days later, Haggerty bought out his brother Bart's share of the family home - paying $1.6 million to the estate of their late father, records show.
It's unclear how much of the purchase was in cash, but Haggerty apparently did not take out a mortgage. The next month, records show, Bart had enough money to buy a $619,000 apartment in Forest Hills - again, apparently without a mortgage.
So where did the Haggerty brothers get that cash? After all, it had been almost a year and a half since their father, a respected longtime lawyer in Albany, passed away.
In his will, he split most of his estate between the brothers - though he gave an extra $30,000 to Bart "due to the extra care, support and effort he expended on my behalf."
Haggerty had another potential pot of Bloomberg cash to tap as well: The mayor gave $120,000 on Nov. 20 to a new political committee Haggerty set up, the 28th Assembly District Republican Committee.
He did not respond to messages left at the house last week, or at the Rego Park office he rents for political operations. Bart did not respond to an e-mail.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. has issued subpoenas in the case, which may deter them from talking even if Haggerty has done nothing wrong.
Bloomberg campaign officials have generally defended Haggerty, who ran Election Day operations for the mayor's 2001 and 2005 campaigns through the Republican Party.
They say he put together an extensive operation in November that could well have cost $750,000. Campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said the campaign offered to pay Haggerty a salary or bonus, but he declined - which he would have been unlikely to do if he really needed money.
"The suggestion is unfair," Wolfson said. "If he was interested in money, he didn't demonstrate that during the campaign."