Imagine if you will a conservative Republican mayor used public employees' work time to advocate stricter state-level abortion regulations throughout the country? The Left would, and to an extent rightfully so, raise a fit, and the liberal media would, again, rightly so, beat the drums and make the abuse of power a major national story.
But when it's liberal independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg doing the same thing to push a gun control agenda, the media are not-so-strangely silent, given the media's push for ever-more-restrictive gun laws.
Former NewsBuster Lachlan Markay, now with the Washington Free Beacon, has the story:
Brina Milikowsky, a policy adviser to both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his gun control advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), said on Wednesday that MAIG will increase pressure on both federal and state lawmakers to enact additional firearms restrictions.
Milikowsky, who draws a salary from New York taxpayers, told a crowd at the Center for American Progress’s Make Progress summit in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday that she “do[es] legislative advocacy, primarily.” She will work in that capacity to push legislators to enact new gun control measures this fall and winter. “We want to give Congress hell during the August recess when they’re home,” she said.
Milikowsky’s extensive involvement in MAIG’s advocacy work concerned some observers who say it amounts to taxpayer funding for an interest group’s lobbying campaign.
“It’s clearly unethical for Mayor Bloomberg to use a taxpayer-funded staffer from his office to promote his anti-Second Amendment group’s lobbying,” Ken Boehm, co-founder of the National Legal and Policy Center, an ethics watchdog group, said.
You may recall that in March, my NewsBusters colleague Kyle Drennan cited Bloomberg on NBC’s Meet The Press saying, “I think I have a responsibility, and I think you and all of your viewers have responsibilities, to try to make this country safer....And if I can do that by spending some money and taking the NRA from being the only voice to being one of the voices...then I think my money would be well spent...”
It seems that the mayor has taken an ends justify the means approach.
Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) could be – ironically – acting illegally in its lobbying efforts. What would happen to a pro-life mayor – or governor – who used taxpayer money to fund his, or her, agenda? It would be equally egregious in terms of ethics and following the law. It’s even more absurd that Bloomberg, a billionaire, can’t do all of this on his own dime without pressing New York City taxpayers into service by pressing City employees into his political service when they're on the clock for the city's government.
Again from Markay's July 18 story:
Milikowsky said MAIG “will continue to push the envelope” in its drive for additional firearm restrictions.
That attitude irked Boehm. “What could be more arrogant than forcing the over-taxed residents of New York City to pay for the salary of someone to pressure state and federal legislators on the billionaire mayor’s pet projects?”
This isn’t the first time. On June 25, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air reported that Bloomberg dispatched NYC employee Christopher Kocher to lobby for anti-gun legislation in Nevada. Now, the mayor’s office said that Kocher wasn’t in Nevada as a representative of the Big Apple, but for MAIG. As Politico noted at the time:
“With 85 percent of guns used in crimes here coming from out of state, gun policy everywhere has an impact on the safety of New Yorkers,” said Bloomberg spokesman John McCarthy, insisting it’s a governmental issue. “The mayor’s top priority is keeping New Yorkers safe and that includes seeking sane gun laws in other states and D.C. to help reduce the flow of illegal guns to New York.”
But Nevada lobbying forms show it was not City Hall, but the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund, for whom Kocher was registered as working. The “action fund” is the 501(c)(4) through which Bloomberg has personally paid for more than $12 million in campaign-style ads against senators who did not back a gun control bill in the Senate, part of a national effort he is waging.
City Hall had insisted last week, when Ace of Spades blogger John Ekdahl first raised questions about the MAIG website being hosted on city government web servers, that there was separation between MAIG as the coalition of mayors involved, and the 501(c)(4), which has tax-exempt status.
What's more, according to my NewsBusters colleague Tom Blumer last May, the mayor has also been criticized for allowing the Bloomberg news service's journalists to monitor corporate subscribers' “terminal login activity to develop stories about possible Wall Street executive departures before anyone else outside the entities involved knew and for other newsgathering purposes.”
That's a wholly distinct scandal from the MAIG one, but there's no doubt in our minds that if Bloomberg were a conservative politician, that the media would use the separate scandals to reate a drumbeat of negative coverage casting a pall over the last days of his mayoral administration.