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Investigative Bulletin

De Blasio’s Shakedown Campaign

Reports are flying that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will soon throw his hat in the ring, becoming the twenty-third Democrat to seek his party’s nomination for president. Early rankings have him around twenty-third place. Recent visits to Iowa and New Hampshire were underwhelming. A Quinnipiac poll found that 76% of New Yorkers believe he should not run for president. His own allies have told Politico the idea is “f—ing insane” and “idiotic.”

It’s insane only if the unpopular and charisma-challenged mayor actually believes he can win the nomination. But there’s a context in which a de Blasio run makes perfect sense: as a shakedown. “I seen my opportunities and I took ’em,” the corrupt Tammany Hall politician George Washington Plunkitt famously said. Mayor de Blasio’s run reminds everyone wanting to do business with New York for the next two years that all roads run through City Hall.

A New York Times editorial reported Sunday that de Blasio’s “potential candidacy has caught the attention of people who do business with the city. They’ve been donating to the mayor’s presidential political action committee, the federal Fairness PAC, his latest vehicle for raising money from powerful interests.” The paper noted that “the ease with which the mayor continues to accept donations from people seeking business before the city is disquieting, even if the fund-raising breaks no laws.”

De Blasio’s mayoral tenure has been an ethical train wreck. Judicial Watch has documented his relationship with corrupt donors, his war on transparency, his failed attempts at social engineering, his politicization of the NYPD, and his grandiose and self-pitying posturing.

With billions in business contracts and donations washing through the New York political system, a new version of Tammany Hall has been evolving. It’s centered on City Hall and revolves around monied interests, such as the powerful real estate industry, and non-profit entities manipulated for personal and political gain. That’s the game de Blasio is playing. But corruption is timeless and the central Tammany scam is unchanged from days of old: game the system to the benefit of the powerful and well-connected, with crumbs for the common folk. Judicial Watch explores aspects of the new Tammany Hall here and here.

Bill de Blasio is no Boss Tweed—Tammany’s criminal genius—but he sees his opportunities and he’s taking them. In New York, if you want to play, you’ve got to pay. That’s the true meaning of a de Blasio presidential run.

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Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Follow him on Twitter @micah_morrison. Tips: [email protected]

Investigative Bulletin is published by Judicial Watch. Reprints and media inquiries: [email protected]lwatch.org