New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's practice of allowing unlimited donations to a nonprofit, set up to promote his efforts to raise taxes on the city's wealthiest residents to finance universal prekindergarten classes, is a "sad and cynical double standard," former Gov. George Pataki says.
While de Blasio was still the Big Apple's public advocate, he slammed the donation practice, Pataki pointed out, but now the state's former chief executive says he's employing the tactic "in an effort to pass a tax that simply punishes one segment of New Yorkers while doing nothing to promote greater opportunity," reports The New York Post
De Blasio's allies are collecting the unlimited donations through UPKNYC/Campaign One for New York. Donors have not yet been disclosed, but the group says it will reveal its contributors in upcoming weeks, and watchers say municipal unions who are seeking pay raises for city employees are likely to be among them.
The prekindergarten campaign, commonly known as UPKNYC, was incorporated as Campaign One for New York under Section 501(c)4 of the state's tax code, which allows it to accept donations of all sizes, reports The New York Times
Such groups are often criticized because they allow donors to remain secret. New York state law, though, will require Campaign One to disclose any contributions of $5,000 or more.
Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, told The Times she is concerned de Blasio is allowing wealthy donors to influence the city's government policies.
"This creates another opportunity for big-dollar donors to access City Hall in a way that is not available to the ordinary New Yorker,” she said.
Back in 2010, when de Blasio was public advocate, he slammed Pataki for collecting more than $2 million for the Revere America super PAC, which he headed. Before he became mayor, de Blasio often railed against such groups, which influenced elections or government policy by raising secret donations, and protested super PACs and other groups after a Supreme Court decision lifted limits on corporate donations.
The mayor's spokesman, Phil Walzak, denied Sunday that there was any double standard at play.
"Gov. Pataki's failure to follow through on his commitment to fully fund universal prekindergarten is exactly why we need this tax today," Walzak said. "There is no double standard here. Mayor de Blasio was critiquing undisclosed donations, which is not the case here."
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