(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on October 4, 2013, it filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) lawsuit with the Supreme Court of the New York requesting that the office of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg be ordered to produce all records of communications between the Office of the Mayor, the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), and Vice President Joe Biden. The FOIL suit also requested that the mayor’s office be required to produce records of a January 9, 2013, meeting attended by MAIG representatives, Biden, and Attorney General Eric Holder. (Judicial Watch v. Office of the Mayor (No. 15913412013))
Specifically, Judicial Watch seeks the following records pursuant to a January 15, 2013, FOIL request (amended on July 10, 2013):
- Any and all records of communication between Mayor Bloomberg and/or Chief Advisor to the Mayor for Policy and Strategic Planning John Feinblatt and Mr. Mark Glaze, Director of Mayors against Illegal Guns and a Principal at The Raben Group, LLC between December 14, 2012 and January 22, 2013.
- Any and all records of communications between Mayor Bloomberg and/or any official, employee, or representative of the Office of the Mayor and Vice President Joe Biden and/or any official, employee, or representative of the Office of the Vice President of the United States.
- Any and all records regarding, concerning or related to the January 9, 2013 White House meeting attended by Chief Advisor to the mayor for Policy and Strategic planning John Feinblatt, Vice President Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, and others. This request includes, but is not limited to, any and all notes, talking points, briefing books, and internal memoranda produced in the preparation for, during, and/or subsequent to the meeting.
New York Mayor Bloomberg is a co-founder of MAIG, which advocates for gun control laws nationwide. Despite the refusal of the Bloomberg office to respond to the FOIL request, Judicial Watch investigators have uncovered the following about the Bloomberg operation:
- Since 2008, MAIG has spent a total of $1,280,000 on federal lobbyists. This excludes $580,000 in in-house lobbying expenses for the organization in 2013 (the first year they reported any such expenditures). The total (in-house and out-sourced) lobbying expenses are $1,860,000 since 2008.
- Since 2009, MAIG’s primary lobbying firm has been The Raben Group, founded and led by former Clinton Assistant Attorney General Robert Raben.
- Through the United Against Illegal Guns Support Fund, MAIG has paid for regional coordinators to be employed in mayors’ offices throughout the country, including Minneapolis, Columbus, Lewiston, Reading, and Seattle.
- In 2010, MAIG provided grants totaling more than $371,000, and at least $346,000 in 2011 to fund these positions. The positions, however, are not cost-neutral for the municipalities in which coordinators are installed. The funding includes a matching requirement that the recipient of the award funds will be required to pay for all fringe benefits provided to the Regional Coordinator and any salary paid to the Region: a minimum of $717,000 over 2010 and 2011.
Though the agreements between MAIG and the recipients stipulate that “no portion of the grant may be used to support lobbying activities,” a Memorandum of Understanding between MAIG and the city of Orlando uncovered by Judicial Watch includes the following requirements:
- Working to pass state or county laws requiring background checks for all gun sales at gun shows and/or a state law requiring the reporting of lost or stolen guns;
- Working to pass a state law allowing broader local government control of gun laws so that local governments can enact gun laws that they determine would help protect public safety;
- Working to pass a new state law requiring regular gun dealer inspections to detect possible sales to illegal gun traffickers.
“We have good reason to suspect that New York taxpayers have been forced to foot the bill for Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-gun group,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “We have records showing that other municipalities also foot part of his anti-gun lobbying efforts. And it is well past time for the public to have a full accounting from Mayor Bloomberg about MAIG taxpayer-funded activities. Giving the document cover-up, it looks like Mayor Bloomberg has something to hide.”