Michael Bloomberg’s Got Some ‘Splainin’ to Do

If the mayor of New York wants to carry on a crusade against guns, that’s his business. But there is something rotten about the way that he’s doing it

The name “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” is well known as Mike Bloomberg’s gun-control arm, which he spends his personal fortune through on ads. Yet the group’s website is registered to, and handled by, official city government servers and staffers.

Domain names for MAIG were registered in 2006 by the New York City Department of Information and Technology, and have remained on official city web servers ever since.

Yet the group’s “action fund,” through which he has piped at least $14 million of his own money in ads over gun control this year alone, is registered as a 501c4, a nonprofit “social welfare” group with the same tax status as, say, the Karl Rove-linked Crossroads GPS or Organizing for Action, President Obama’s grassroots arm. And it raises questions about why a website associated with the group is being managed by City Hall.

In fact, the various pieces of the mayor’s efforts appear as a confusing muddle online, with sites that are ostensibly not part of the 501c4 nonetheless being visually dominated by entreaties to click through to the ones that are. There’s little indication that these are different entities with different oversight.

At minimum, the use of a city web server and city employees underscore what critics have long derided as a blurring of the lines between government resources and Bloomberg’s own multi-billion-dollar fortune, his company, and his pet interests in his three terms as mayor.

I seem to recall that maybe, possibly, just perhaps, there was a time when Bloomberg concentrated on addressing the problems and challenges affecting New York, instead of trying to be mayor of the entire planet and engaging in potential impropriety in the process. I’d like to think that I am not wrong in this recollection, but even if I am right, one is left to wonder what happened to the Michael Bloomberg who focused on being a mayor instead of being a crusader.