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Bloomberg A Staunch Opponent To Quinn's Campaign Finance Law

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg is denouncing City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's proposal to loosen the city's campaign finance law, saying it is an effort by labor unions to gut the system. NY1's Grace Rauh has the story.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg might not be an obvious champion of campaign finance reform -- he spent $268 million on his three mayoral campaigns and he set up his own super PAC during the last election to try and influence candidates and causes.

But he has emerged as one of the strongest opponents to a plan by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to loosen campaign finance restrictions in the city.

"I think it's a terrible idea," Bloomberg said.

Currently there are strict spending limits for candidates who take part in the city's campaign finance system.

Any coordination with a union or corporation to promote a candidate would be considered a campaign activity with costs listed as a campaign expense. Quinn wants to change that.

"This is just a blatant attempt by a handful of unions to get around that [law] and it is really not good for democracy," Bloomberg said. "You are going to throw away all the improvements in campaign finance if you do this. There will be nothing left of it."

Quinn's legislation would give unions, advocacy groups and corporations much more leeway than they have now.

They would be able to coordinate with candidates and spend unlimited amounts of money -- with few exceptions -- to promote them to their members.

"A labor union that has many members that participate in the decision making process with the union, they should be able to communicate back and forth to and with their members," said Jesse Laymon of Citizen Action of New York. "That shouldn't be considered an in-kind contribution to a candidate's campaign."

In a statement, Quinn said the Council believes firmly that a strong and healthy democracy permits membership organizations to educate and inform their members.

The legislation had been on a fast-track through the City Council but it looks like it is slowing down amid the criticism.

A hearing on the bill was originally scheduled for Thursday but has been pushed back a week.

A spokesman for Quinn says a vote will not take place before the end of the year.

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