Two groups have emerged to spend their own money to support Joe Lhota's bid for mayor, and while the candidate says he has nothing to do with them, he says they have every right to spend thousands of dollars on his behalf. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Joseph Lhota and Bill de Blasio are now fighting over the constitution.
"There's no reason in the world why people are not allowed to express their first amendment rights of freedom of speech," Lhota said.
"It says horrible things about his philosophy and judgement," de Blasio said.
Lhota and his rival were responding to a lawsuit filed Wednesday by a new political action committee.
The committee, known as New York Progress and Protection PAC, wants to spend big bucks on Lhota, but state law prohibits groups from taking more than $150,000 from a single donor. So now, the group is suing to take down that cap.
"The Supreme Court has held that money is a way of speaking in political campaigns," said PAC Attorney Todd Geremia. "In order for the plaintiff, this PAC, to be able to effectively speak in the mayoral campaign, it has to be able to do things like buy advertisements and spend money."
The suit argues that Lhota needs the extra cash to boost his name recognition.
The candidate himself says he doesn't have anything to do with the group or the Washington, D.C. lawyer and Alabama energy executive behind it, but he was more than willing to defend them at a breakfast in Queens on Thursday.
"No one should ever be abridging any American's right to freedom of speech," Lhota said. "There's a reason why it's in the first amendment."
"I think this shows a pattern, a classic Republican pattern, of trying to flood more money into our election system and trying to drown out the voices of the people," de Blasio said.
A different PAC, known as New Yorkers for Proven Leadership, has already aired ads to support Lhota's candidacy.
Lhota may need the extra help to get his message out. After campaigning all year long, hi is just now planning to release concrete policy proposals on his website.
"The very first plan that will be put on the website, hopefully by close of business today, will be the job plan. Let that go up," Lhota said.
Later, his campaign said the website was being revamped and that the jobs proposal would be posted as soon as possible.