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Mayor Michael Bloomberg used the state Independence Party as an intermediary to funnel a $750,000 payment to a high-profile Queens Republican backer of the mayor, according to campaign finance records and the New York Post.
Bloomberg made two personal $600,000 contributions to the Independence Party’s housekeeping account Oct. 30 and Nov. 2, campaign finance records show.
Of that $1.2 million, $750,000 was given to Special Election Operations LLC Dec. 11, eight days after it was formed, according to the records.
Special Election Operations is tied to John Haggerty, a volunteer on Bloomberg’s campaign who was not paid a salary, the Post reported.
Haggerty was “involved in some of the activities” of Special Elections Operations, which hired 200 to 300 workers to do poll watching on Election Day, Bloomberg campaign attorney Ken Gross told the Post.
Gross could not be reached for comment nor could state Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay.
A veteran GOP consultant told the Post he believed the LLC was designed to dole out so-called “street money,” or funds distributed on Election Day to campaign volunteers for lunches and other incidentals, but Bloomberg’s campaign spokesman disputed that to the Post.
Haggerty, who is in a longstanding feud with Queens GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa over control of the borough party, did not respond to a request for comment.
Haggerty’s brother, Bart Haggerty, said he was unaware of John Haggerty’s role in Special Election Operations.
Ragusa said he was suspicious of the amount of the payment and how it went through the Independence Party’s account.
“Haggerty is involved here. I don’t know what the heck he’s doing,” Ragusa said. “Why couldn’t the mayor just take that money and give it directly [to Haggerty] through his committee? Why go through all these machinations?”
Aside from the $750,000, Haggerty’s political committee — the 28th Assembly District Republican Committee, which is based in his Forest Hills home — received a $120,000 donation from Bloomberg in late November.
The only other donation to Haggerty’s committee came from himself — a $20 contribution Oct. 19, campaign finance records showed.
The city Independence Party, which is at odds with the state operation, agreed with Ragusa and believed the transaction was improper, according to spokeswoman Sarah Lyons.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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