With Mayor de Blasio’s team under investigation for alleged campaign finance violations, one of the upstate Republicans the mayor targeted is now gleefully piling on, and pushing for much harsher penalties going forward in cases like de Blasio’s. Our Bobby Cuza has that story.
When Republican Terrence Murphy was running for a state senate seat representing parts of Putnam, Dutchess and Westchester Counties, he noticed significant interest from New York City.
"During my race in 2014, there was literally busloads of people coming up from New York City to canvass the area," Murphy said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio made no secret at the time of his goal to help Democrats win control of the senate. That included steering donors to three upstate Democratic county committees, which have much higher contribution limits than individual campaigns; those committees then simply transferred the money to the candidates — hundreds of thousands of dollars worth.
While that kind of transfer is legal, a complaint from the head of the Putnam County Republican Party led the state Board of Elections to investigate, and find the entire scheme amounted to a violation warranting criminal prosecution, because of the intent to evade contribution limits.
"There’s serious allegations in this. You know what? If he’s found guilty, which I believe he is, put him in jail," Murphy said.
Despite the money spent against him, Murphy won his race and now says it’s the mayor who should pay. At a news conference Tuesday, he noted those pressed to donate included developers and others with business before the city.
"This was a shakedown by Mayor Bill de Blasio on business owners in New York City. Can you say pay-to-play?"
Senator Murphy has introduced legislation that would make the type of campaign finance violation in question a Class D felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Mayor de Blasio and his campaign attorney have suggested the Board of Elections is misapplying the law and that the probe is politically motivated. As for Murphy’s bill, it’s unclear if it’ll go anywhere; the senate’s Republican leadership has historically opposed any attempt at campaign finance reform.