A ruling by a Manhattan judge Monday may be causing Mayor Michael Bloomberg some headaches, as he now faces the possibility of winding up on the witness stand along with top aides to reveal how City Hall plays politics. NY1’s Josh Robin filed the following report.
John Haggerty walked out of court Monday. The political operator may not be a familiar face, but his criminal trial may bring one to the witnesses stand.
His alleged victim is Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Prosecutors say Bloomberg hired Haggerty for ballot security in his last election in 2009, paying him about $1.2 million. Instead, Haggerty allegedly pocketed much of the money for personal items, like a home.
If the defense has its way, Bloomberg may end up with an image problem.
A state Supreme Court judge said Monday that he won't yet place limits on testimony, which has set up the possibility of an extraordinary scene: the billionaire mayor and his aides pressed under oath to divulge what it took to win a third term.
"We're talking about one of the most powerful men in the country, if not the world. To ask the mayor about his campaign, it's an opportunity to try to find out about the way the mayor conducted his business, in this case the campaign," said Jerry Goldfeder, an election lawyer.
Bloomberg paid Haggerty through an account controlled by the state Independence Party, an arrangement that election lawyer Henry Berger said may be against the law.
"He gave the money to the housekeeping account, which is not a political contribution, but money in the housekeeping account cannot be used for campaign purposes,” said Berger.
City Hall officials counter that the practice is widespread and above board.
Aides add that since the Bloomberg campaign did nothing wrong, it has nothing to hide if top surrogates are called to the stand.
Meanwhile to keep control of the trial, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance wants the focus on Haggerty. After he dropped a rape case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Vance also wants a win in this other high-profile prosecution.
The trial is scheduled to begin in earnest next Monday with jury selection.