Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vance Probes a Shady Bloomberg Campaign Staffer -- Editorial -

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Sunlight may be about to fall on one of the more curious episodes of last year's mayoral campaign.

Manhattan DA Cy Vance has convened a grand jury to investigate a Bloomberg campaign consultant's disposition of $750,000 -- money he received after the mayor donated $1.2 million to the state Independence Party.

As The Post reported in January, Bloomberg wrote two checks totaling $600,000 to the Independence Party right before Election Day.

The party promptly paid $750,000 to a shadowy outfit called Special Election Operations, run by campaign consultant John Haggerty.

Michael Bloomberg
Getty Images
Michael Bloomberg

Ostensibly, the money was for workers to guard against poll-booth shenanigans.

But it's not clear if the firm's staff did so. In any event, the company didn't register with New York's secretary of state until nearly a month after the election.

Perhaps more to the point, Haggerty now can account for barely $150,000 of the cash. So, where did the rest go?

Was, as some suspect, Haggerty running a "street money" operation -- handing out cash to get voters to the polls? Or did he just pocket the remainder?

Haggerty associates now claim that he had a deal with the campaign to keep any leftover cash -- a charge former campaign spokesman and current Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson denies.

Is this just a simple case of a political operative ripping off the campaign and/or the Independence Party?

Or was he working at the behest of both organizations?

Billionaire Bloomberg was hardly shy about spending whatever it took last year -- on campaign personnel, advertising, mailings, etc.

Thus, the last-minute cash influx to the Independence Party and transfer to Haggerty rightly raises some eyebrows.

Rather than just make Haggerty the fall guy, Vance's grand jury needs to follow this money trail wherever it leads.