New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, is registered to the city of New York and is run using city staff and city servers.
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.
Bloomberg aides strenuously pushed back on questions of propriety, insisting that there is a distinction between MAIG - which is the "broad coalition of 950 mayors" -- and the MAIG "action fund," which is the 501c4. The mayoral coalition, they argued, fits within the legislative priorities of Bloomberg's administration.
"Mayor Bloomberg is the co-chair of the coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns," said John McCarthy, a City Hall-based spokesman for Bloomberg who also handles elements of the group's media output.
Positively incestuous. And why isn't the IRS looking at Bloomberg's non-profit group for outright political activity? He has threatened congressmen and senators with defeat at the polls unless they vote his way on guns. Are we to believe these ads are "social welfare" spending?
The IRS was skeptical when it came to Tea Party groups. Apparently, some "social welfare" spending is more equal than others.