Join the GOOGLE +Rubber Room Community

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Eva Moskowitz/Joel Klein E-Mail Scandal

Eva Moskowitz has both friends and enemies in New York City. One friend is definitely Joel Klein, as Juan Gonzalez of the NY Daily News revealed last week when he released the 77 pages of emails sent between Moskowitz and Klein.

Moskowitz, wife of lawyer Eric Grannis, is the golden girl of charter schools and the apple of Joel Klein's eye. At least this is what the 125 emails sent between the two (see below) show. Several years ago, however, she managed to give a $350,000 donation of City Council money to the NEST+M school located at 111 Columbia Street in Manhattan's lower East side in order to get her son accepted there. (He was, and NEST is a public school, not a charter).

Joel Klein was made a figurehead Chancellor (remember, he has no contract)by Mike Bloomberg to reform public schools in New York City. Reform how, you may ask? In my opinion, the strategy was to dumb down the curriculum in math and reading, get rid of experienced, senior teachers, and then, when public schools got so bad they had to be closed (no effort made to fix them was part of the plan), bring in charter schools to save the day. Oh, and add into the plan a new way of grading schools so that the New York City parent community would be totally confused as to which school was good or bad on a given day. This "flavor-of-the-week" pattern is most useful when obstruction of parent protests is the focus.

That's what I think.

Anyway, below is the transcript of the discussion between Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on democracy now!

Thanks, Amy and Juan!!! Great job!


AMY GOODMAN: Juan, following up on our debate on charter schools, you had a very interesting piece in the New York Daily News today.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes. Well, my column in the paper today—you know, there was a hearing yesterday in Washington of the Education Committee of the House of Representatives over reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, and the Obama administration wants to double the amount of money being spent across the country on new charter schools. And my column actually dealt with one of the people who testified at that hearing yesterday, the lead person testifying at the hearing, Eva Moskowitz, who runs the Harlem Success Academies, a group of about four or five schools in Harlem.

And I’ve been fighting now for months to get the email correspondence between her and the chancellor of the New York City public school system, Joel Klein. And the Department fought me for eight months. We needed a legal ruling. Our newspaper had to appeal to the State Committee on Open Government to get a legal ruling to force them to turn over the material. They finally did. And we actually published not only an article, my column in today’s Daily News, but on our website you can actually get the entire three-year email correspondence between these two figures.

And what it shows is an enormous amount of direct support by the top person in the public school system to these charter schools, in terms of raising money for them, overruling lower-level officials who were insisting that certain policies don’t allow them to do certain things. A very close relationship between the top chancellor of the New York City school system and this very small charter network leader in Harlem.

And, of course, Harlem has become the ground zero for the battle over charter schools, because there are about twenty-five charter schools in Harlem right now. Hundreds of parents are turning out in meetings. There are battles between pro-charter parents and anti-charter parents. It’s creating enormous divisions not only in New York City but throughout the country, as the government fails to improve the public schools but urges parents to continue to go into charters. So it’s a major issue across the country, and the Obama administration, of course, is coming out on the side of more and more charters and not dealing with some of the fundamental problems for how we improve our public schools.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll link to that at

Eva Moskowitz has special access to Schools Chancellor Klein - and support
others can only dream of

Juan Gonzalez, NY Daily News, February 25th 2010

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein often lauds a small group of Harlem charter schools founded by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz.

But few New Yorkers are aware of the access Moskowitz has to the chancellor or the special support he has bestowed on her program, whose four schools enroll just 1,300 of the city's more than 1 million public school students.

Since Moskowitz launched her first Harlem Success Academy in August 2006, Klein has attended at least 13 events for her schools, including several fund-raisers and private meetings with her, 125 e-mails between them show.

The e-mails, obtained by the Daily News under a Freedom of Information request, provide a glimpse into the close relationship - one that would make most principals green with envy.

They show that in addition to Klein's visits, Moskowitz:

- Secured the chancellor's help last year in landing a $1 million donation from a private Los Angeles foundation.

- Got Klein to intervene on her behalf in clashes she had with his subordinates.

- Boasted to him of organizing parent "armies" to advocate for Mayor Bloomberg's educational policies - and of flooding politicians with thousands of pro-charter school postcards.

The News requested e-mails pertaining to the efforts of Harlem Success to get more space in school buildings. The space issue is contentious in many city neighborhoods, and Moskowitz may be the best-known advocate of more public space for charters.

The e-mails clearly show Moskowitz had Klein's ear on the issue, even complaining to him about his aides.

"Dilly dalling [sic] bureaucrats don't want to confront principals," she wrote in June 2008. This was after a top school official refused to allocate Harlem Success Academy 2 an additional classroom in East Harlem's Public School 7.

"I still am short rooms and zoned school is getting more space than charters," Moskowitz said. "Your people will say am sure i am wrong. What they will say is simply not true."

"I've talked to John White [the official in charge of allocating school space] who will call you," Klein wrote back.

A few days later, Moskowitz told Klein that White was not giving her the space she wanted.

"Really could use your intervention," she wrote. "We need to quickly and decisively distinguish the good guys from bad. And yes take away resources from institutions that are harming children and give to those who are truly putting children first."

Not long afterward, the problem was apparently solved. "Help on space much appreciated," Moskowitz wrote.

Asked about her e-mails, Moskowitz said it is her job to advocate for her schools.

"I don't just quietly accept what is dished out to our parents and what I believe are unfair allocations of space that hurt my schools," she said.

At one point, she told Klein city Education Department policy kept her from getting enough mailing lists of public school kids for a marketing campaign for her charters.

"We need to be able to mail 10-12 times to elementary and pre-k families" Moskowitz wrote.

Five days later, Michael Duffy, the head of Klein's charter school division, wrote her:

"The Chancellor asked me [to] give you an update on where things stand with getting mailing labels to you and other charter schools."

Duffy was trying to "overcome the obstacles" of "privacy laws," he said, to make available all the labels Moskowitz wanted.

Klein spokesman David Cantor acknowledged the Moskowitz request led to a change in policy to provide more mailing lists.

"But it didn't only have to do with Harlem Success," he said. "Several charter schools were asking to be able to send mailings to families in their districts."

In a Jan. 11, 2009, e-mail, Moskowitz outlined her plans to build an advocacy network with other charter schools.

"What you are doing is so important," Klein responded. "Your charter colleagues are miles behind."

Since August 2006, the chancellor has attended several parent meetings at Harlem Success; two lottery drawings for its applicants; two poker night fund-raisers for the network at a Manhattan W hotel; an auction at Sotheby's of artwork by Harlem Success children, and several private breakfast meetings with Moskowitz.

"Klein hasn't been to our school in more than five years," said one principal of a high-achieving Manhattan public high school. "I've never had breakfast with him."

"The chancellor meets with several principals, charter school leaders and other N.Y.C. school operators just as often or more," Cantor said.

Cantor pointed to Geoffrey Canada, who operates two acclaimed Harlem Children's Zone charter schools, and to Richard Kahan, who runs the Urban Assembly network of public schools, as examples.

A spokesman for Harlem Children's Zone said Klein had visited its schools "maybe two or three times in the past six years."

Kahan said his network, which has existed for more than a decade and operates 22 schools, has had "maybe a dozen visits" from Klein.

The e-mails also show Klein appealed to Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad to fund Harlem Success, helping Moskowitz get $1 million from Broad's foundation.

"Can't thank you enough for your support," she wrote Klein after getting the money last year.

"We plan to open our last 3 in Harlem in august 2010 and then move to Bronx," she added. "With 27 charters in Harlem [counting other non-Harlem Success charter schools] we will have market share and will have fundamentally changed the rules of the game."

Charter schools look good under Ed Department's grading system
Thursday, December 20th 2007, 12:05 AM

City school officials Wednesday extended their controversial A-F grading system to 14 charter schools - a month after critics blasted them for exempting charters.

The problem, said city charter-school chief Michael Duffy, was that the publicly funded private schools don't have to submit the same data to the city.

"Charters by definition are independent of the district, so getting information together for them is less straightforward," Duffy said.

Parents and teachers had not taken the opinion surveys that accounted for 10% of grades at other schools.

After critics objected, officials launched a pilot program with 19 charters authorized by the city, but five of those had not been open long enough to have gradable data.

Most of the remaining 14 earned A's or B's, including two - Williamsburg Collegiate in Brooklyn and KIPP Infinity in Harlem - that earned the highest total scores in the city.

A few did poorly, including the Peninsula Preparatory Academy in Far Rockaway, Queens, which scored an F.

Comparisons are difficult because without survey results, attendance accounted for 15% of charter grades but only 5% of public school grades.

The difference upset some charter advocates.

"We thought if charters are going to be graded, let's do it by the same methodology. If not, let's wait until next year," said James Merriman of the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence.

He predicted that when all 60 city charter schools are given the option to be graded by the same criteria next year, most will participate.

"Going into this, you want to believe you should be held to the same standard as every other school out there," said Julie Trott, founding principal of Williamsburg Collegiate. "As much as we believe we're doing well and serving students as best we can, it's nice to have outside confirmation."

School officials say they wanted charter grades out before parents consider applying for next year.

"Our desire is to get information into the hands of parents," Duffy said.

Former City Council member Eva Moskowitz makin' a bundle at nonprofit schools
Juan Gonzalez - News

Friday, February 27th 2009, 12:32 AM
Ex-Council member Eva Moskowitz made $371,000 for running four charter academies, more than Chancellor Joel Klein got for running 1,400 city schools.
Costanza for News

Eva Moskowitz, the former City Council member who founded a small chain of nonprofit charter schools, is a passionate and abrasive champion of the charter school movement.

She's also making a bundle.

Moskowitz, who makes no secret of her desire to create 40 charter schools across the city and run for mayor some day, raked in $371,000 in salaries in the 2006-2007 school year from organizations connected to her four schools, tax records show.

Those schools, Harlem Success Academy 1, 2, 3 and 4, have an enrollment of about 1,000 pupils, from kindergarten to third grade.

The nonprofit organizations connected to the schools have yet to file more recent tax returns, but Moskowitz said in an interview late Thursday she received $310,000 last year - the 2007-2008 year - $250,000 in salary and $60,000 in a bonus.

That means Moskowitz, who is responsible for four schools, makes more than Chancellor Joel Klein, who gets $250,000 to run 1,400 schools.

In 2006-2007, she even surpassed John Ryan, the former chancellor of the State University of New York, who earned $340,000 to manage some 70 campuses with nearly 300,000 students.

Needless to say, she left your run-of-the-mill public school principal, with an average annual salary of $124,000, in the dust.

Tax records show in her first year of operation Moskowitz made $85,000 as executive director of Harlem Success Academy, the group that receives DOE money to operate the charter schools.

At the same time, she received $186,000 as chief executive officer of the Success Charter Network, a separate nonprofit that provides "management services" to her schools.

Finally, she received $100,000 as an "independent contractor" for Friends of Gotham Charter School, which provides support finances for Harlem Success.

All three organizations share an address and list as officers Joel Greenblatt and John Petry, the millionaire hedge fund managers who bankrolled the Success Charter Network.

Moskowitz said her unusually high pay for 2006-2007, included compensation for months of planning work from the previous year.

"Yes, I earn a good living," Moskowitz said. "I also have an enormous responsibility to try and design 40 schools that are immensely successful. If your child walks into my school, I treat them like my child."

Charter schools are free to use the money they raise from outside sources any way they see fit - even if that means huge salaries for the chief executive.

Given that Moskowitz routinely complains that the Department of Education has failed to provide a fair share of funding for her students, it's fair to ask why she's paying herself so much for educating so few. Charters get about 90% of what it costs to teach each child and raise funds for additional money.

Parents from Moskowitz's schools vehemently defend the Harlem Success Academy and say their kids are making phenomenal progress. That could very well be true, but the DOE has not posted independent test results for any of the Moskowitz schools.

Her critics, who include educators, parents, the teachers' union and Harlem political leaders, say she is a relentless self-promoter.

They say she is not shy about packing public meetings with a parent group she has organized, and then demanding that other public schools give up their space to make way for her programs.

"We had one meeting in East Harlem last year where she bused in her [students'] parents, and the situation got ugly and tense as they kept demanding space in our school," said one East Harlem community leader.

This week, more than 500 parents from the Harlem Success Academy were bused to a hearing at Public School 241 in West Harlem, a school the DOE wants to phase out and turn over to Moskowitz.

"We're unwilling to accept failure," Moskowitz said. "PS 241 has failed for years on end, and it needs to change."

Parents who send their children to 241, along with the local Community Education Council, say the DOE is violating the law by eliminating a zoned public school and replacing it with a charter.

Mike Bloomberg Is Being Investigated For a Mysterious Disappearance of $750,000

June 14, 2010
G.O.P. Consultant Accused of Stealing Campaign Money

A top Republican political consultant was accused on Monday of stealing $1.1 million from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg during the campaign last year and using part of the money to buy a house.

The consultant, John F. Haggerty Jr., 41, lied to Mr. Bloomberg and other aides by saying that he would spend the mayor’s money, which was funneled through the state Independence Party, on Election Day ballot security and poll watching last November, said Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney.

But Mr. Haggerty, who set up a company, Special Election Operations L.L.C., to execute the Election Day plan, spent $32,000, Mr. Vance charged, and kept about $750,000 for himself. The balance of the money, $450,000, went to the Independence Party.

About $600,000, Mr. Vance said, went toward Mr. Haggerty’s purchase of his childhood home in Forest Hills Gardens, Queens. Mr. Haggerty even wrote out bogus checks from Special Election Operations, Mr. Vance charged, in an effort to cover up the crime.

“The defendant’s fraud was an audacious scheme to steal funds in order to buy a house, cynically misusing our political party process to hide what is common thievery,” Mr. Vance said at a news conference.

Of the five counts listed in the indictment — first-degree grand larceny, second-degree money laundering and three counts of falsifying business records — the first is the most serious and carries a maximum punishment of 25 years in prison. But election lawyers say that if convicted, Mr. Haggerty would most likely face a few months.

Mr. Vance also filed a civil forfeiture action against Mr. Haggerty and his company, seeking the seizure of Mr. Haggerty’s house.

The indictment culminates a politically sensitive investigation by Mr. Vance. Before the indictment, there was buzz in the political world about the unusual way that the mayor’s campaign directed the payment, using personal checks from Mr. Bloomberg rather than the campaign’s official account.

Some lawyers and political analysts say the case could prove embarrassing to the mayor, in shining an unwelcome spotlight on one of his least favorite topics: how he spends his own money.

“The mayor filed a statement with the Board of Elections that he would only make campaign expenditures through his campaign committee,” said one lawyer familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the investigation. “But what might have happened here is instead of doing that, he gave personal funds to political parties to make political expenditures for him, and that could be stretching the rules.”

Mr. Vance emphasized that his office had found “no criminal misconduct” on the part of the mayor or his campaign.

But he added that a grand jury was reviewing evidence, and suggested that such evidence might pertain to the Independence Party. A lawyer for the party, under order from a judge, is expected to testify on Thursday before a grand jury.

When Mr. Vance was asked on Monday if the Independence Party was cooperating, he said flatly, “No.”

Asked how the mayor’s sophisticated campaign team might have been a victim of fraud, Mr. Vance hinted at the close relationship between the campaign and Mr. Haggerty, a longtime Republican activist who has worked for George E. Pataki and Jeanine F. Pirro, among other officials and candidates.

“They trusted him,” Mr. Vance said.

Mr. Haggerty pleaded not guilty Monday at his arraignment before a State Supreme Court judge, Larry R. Stephen. A lawyer representing him, Raymond R. Castello, pleaded not guilty on behalf of Special Election Operations.

Mr. Haggerty was released on his own recognizance. After the hearing, Mr. Castello told reporters that the investigation began as an inquiry into the possibility that money had been spent illegally by Mr. Haggerty.

“The indictment doesn’t show any money being spent illegally,” he said, adding that Mr. Haggerty had spent “hundreds of hours” working on ballot security issues.

Mr. Castello added: “He didn’t believe he was doing anything illegal. Mr. Haggerty has cooperated fully with the district attorney.”

Mr. Haggerty is now working on Carl Paladino’s campaign for governor.

Mr. Paladino’s campaign manager, Michael Caputo, said Mr. Haggerty would remain on the team, calling him “a loyal and straightforward man of character.”

John Eligon and Isolde Raftery contributed reporting.

From Betsy Combier:

When Mike Bloomberg won the election as Mayor of New York City, and he said to the public that he would take $1 as his salary, we all said that he was so rich, he did not take bribes...he gave them.

Looks like some major media - like below, the NY Post - are trickling out information on how true that assumption really was.

Remember Billy Thompson's laid-back run for Mayor in the past election? There was alot of talk about his wife's Museum getting funded by Bloomberg and his efforts to be elected being compromised.

Another would-be candidate, we were told, newly married Anthony Weiner withdrew from the race for mayor and his wife is working for Mayor Bloomberg.

I'm happy for Mike that he has so much money, but he must tell us what he is doing with it BEFORE it's too late to do something about it.

my two cents.


Mayor Bloomberg's money was able to buy silence concerning possible election miscues
Adam Lisberg, NY Daily News, February 28th 2010, 4:00 AM

Mayor Bloomberg's money was able to buy more than just consultants, polls and advertising in his reelection campaign last year: It was able to buy silence.

The mysterious $750,000 shell company that ran his Election Day poll-watching operation was paid by the state Independence Party, using $1.2 million Bloomberg gave from his own pocket.

Not a penny of it was disclosed until January. All the headlines about how operative John Haggerty can't account for the $750,000 came out after the election was over.

Separately, a coalition of real estate interests also gave $750,000 to the state Independence Party to support City Council candidates.

None of that was disclosed at the time, either, back when voters could have seen which landlords were dropping $45,000 apiece on those candidates - and could have voted accordingly.

A year earlier, Bloomberg dropped another $1.2 million on the Independence Party just as he was pushing to extend term limits with a professional-grade operation that never explained how it was funded.

All those donations went to an Independence Party account that reports its doings only in January and July - and is only supposed to be used for "ordinary activities," not "promoting the candidacy of specific candidates."

The law is flimsy, though, and Bloomberg and party officials believe it was porous enough to soak up the cash without penalty.

Critics say they broke the law, but since the donations were reported to the notoriously toothless State Board of Elections, don't expect a robust probe to find out who's right.

The city's own Campaign Finance Board, by contrast, runs one of the nation's most rigorous monitoring programs for political spending. It audits campaigns, asks for supporting documents and holds candidates to account.

The CFB does it because most city candidates - Mayor Bloomberg not among them - run for office with tax dollars. In exchange for taking public money, candidates forswear big bucks from special interests and agree to intensive monitoring.

Still, clever candidates always find loopholes. The CFB plugged one last year after Bloomberg's challenger, William Thompson, complained that the mayor's personal donations were buying him support without any disclosure.

The CFB agreed. Starting this year, all candidates must report any cash they give from their own pockets to a party.

The board also wants to force outside groups to report their independent spending on city campaigns, so New York voters will have a full picture of who's backing whom before casting ballots.

"There's a gap in disclosure of political activity at the city level," CFB spokesman Eric Friedman said of the board's proposal, which it hopes to enact this year.

"When outside parties go out and spend money on behalf of a candidate," he said, "they're going to disclose which candidate they're supporting, and they're going to disclose where the money comes from."

For New Yorkers who want to know that, it would have been a helpful law during last year's campaign - and during the push to extend term limits a year earlier.

As the law stands now, though, a smart candidate can buy influence - and silence.

'Phantom' firm got $$ in re-elex
Last Updated: 10:35 AM, January 29, 2010

A $750,000 payment from Mayor Bloomberg's campaign was delivered to a mysterious Albany company that wasn't even created until one month after the November elections, The Post has learned.

In an unusual transaction, Bloomberg's campaign last month sent a $1.2 million check to the state Independence Party -- and the party in turn transferred $750,000 to a previously unknown firm called Special Election Operations. The Independence Party appears to have kept the remaining $450,000.

Special Election Operations has no Web site, isn't found in any Internet or database searches, and was incorporated with the state on Dec. 3, about a month after Bloomberg won re-election as an independent.

The address listed for the outfit, 121 State St. in Albany, is the same as a lobbying firm, Capitol Public Strategies, that is run by many former aides to former Gov. George Pataki.

A partner in the lobbying firm, Ryan Moses, a former state Republican Party executive director who answered the door when a Post reporter visited the address, said he had never heard of Special Election Operations and insisted it wasn't located at that address.

But an hour later, he called The Post to say he had been mistaken. "I didn't recognize the name," he said.

Bradley Tusk, the mayor's campaign manager, said two well-known and politically connected Albany lawyers, Jeff Buley and Mike Avella, were behind Special Election Operations.

Both worked in the mayor's campaign -- but each told The Post that they had no connection to the company and had never heard of it. Neither Buley nor Avella has an office at 121 State St.; both have offices elsewhere in Albany.

On paperwork filed with the state, the organizer of Special Election Operations was listed as Joseph Lipari, a tax lawyer with the firm of Roberts & Holland in Midtown Manhattan. He didn't return numerous calls. As a limited-liability company, no other company officials had to be identified on the paperwork.

Bloomberg's $1.2 million payment went into the Independence Party's housekeeping account, which can only be used for office expenses and party-building purposes -- and not to benefit a single candidate.

So if whatever work Special Election Operations did was strictly for Bloomberg and not all party candidates, it would violate state election law.

Sources said it could also violate the city's campaign-finance rules, since it would be considered an in-kind contribution that wasn't reported.

Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay accepted "full responsibility" for hiring Special Election Operations but said he had no idea who cashed his party's check for $750,000.

MacKay claimed a consultant whose name he couldn't recall referred him to the company, whose principals he didn't know and couldn't name.

Howard Wolfson, the mayor's campaign spokesman and soon-to-be special counsel, said Bloomberg's contribution was intended to support the Independence Party's "field and Election Day operations around the state -- canvassing, turnout reports, machine checks."

But MacKay told The Post the party's election operation was only citywide.

Asked about the contradiction, Wolfson responded in an e-mail, "I'm not going to speculate on conversations you may have had with Chairman MacKay."

Wolfson repeatedly ignored requests since last week for the names of the people behind Special Election Operations.

Bloomberg has had a long and cozy relationship with the state Independence Party, to which he contributed $1.35 million in 2008 to boost Republicans running for state Senate.

Records show Bloomberg sent $600,000 to the party on Oct. 30 and another $600,000 on Nov. 2, a day before the election.

Wolfson said the party then hired a "specialist for human-resources activities since they weren't going to go out and hire each worker one by one and do all the paperwork that came with it."

Mike mystery money went to key elex aide
By DAVID SEIFMAN City Hall Bureau Chief, January 30, 2010

A $750,000 personal campaign contribution that Mayor Bloomberg channeled through the state Independence Party during last year's mayoral election landed in the hands of a top aide, The Post has learned.

The aide, John Haggerty Jr., served as a Bloomberg "volunteer involved in some of the activities" of Special Election Operations LLC, a hastily formed company that hired 200 to 300 workers to do poll watching on Election Day, according to Ken Gross, counsel to the campaign.

But the company didn't register with the state Secretary of State's Office until Dec. 3 -- a full month after the election.

Haggerty was also the recipient of a separate, eye-popping $120,000 personal contribution from the mayor on Nov. 20, which went to a political committee he had formed a month earlier and registered at his home in Forest Hills, Queens.

Until yesterday, mayoral aides and party officials had refused for a week to say who was behind Special Election Operations.

Frank MacKay, the Independence Party chairman, went so far as to claim that not only didn't he know, but that he couldn't recall the name of the consultant who supposedly recommended he hire the firm.

Special Election Operations listed an address in Albany that's the same as that of Capitol Public Strategies, a lobbying firm operated by aides to former Gov. George Pataki.
INTRIGUE: This lobbying firm is at the Albany address listed for the murky "Special Election Operations."

David Catalfamo, one of the partners in the lobbying firm, said he gave permission for the address to be used on Special Election Operation's incorporation papers, but that was the end of any connection to the company. Some members of the lobbying firm are close with Haggerty.

Although Haggerty worked in the mayor's re-election campaign along with his brother, Bart, Haggerty didn't get paid.

Sources said John Haggerty was instrumental in helping Bloomberg land the Republican ballot line in the face of strong initial opposition from some GOP leaders and that the mayor considers him a trusted adviser.

"There are two people that can get the mayor's ear anytime they want -- [Deputy Mayor] Kevin Sheekey and John Haggerty," said one source.

Leaders of the city Independence Party -- which has been feuding with MacKay for years -- suggested the entire set-up might be "corrupt."

"We have nothing to do with MacKay and Company and we're not the least bit surprised that what they're doing looks fishy, perhaps even corrupt," said Jacqueline Salit, a spokeswoman for the city party and a Bloomberg ally.

One veteran GOP consultant said he believed Special Election Operations was designed to dispense "street money" -- cash that's spread around on Election Day to volunteers and for such incidentals as lunch.

But Howard Wolfson, the mayor's campaign spokesman, insisted the $750,000 -- part of a $1.2 million personal contribution Bloomberg made to the state Independence Party right before the election -- didn't go for that purpose.

"The [Independence Party] made the same Election Day expenses that all party committees make every election for Election Day workers," he said in an e-mail.

"Because the IP does not have the infrastructure to handle this kind of activity in-house, it used Special Election Operations to handle the payroll payments to all these individuals."

Gross said he couldn't immediately provide a list of those workers, saying that was the responsibility of the state Independence Party. Haggerty didn't return repeated phone calls.

Bloomberg's $750K payment for election may have funded purchase of Queens home
Adam Lisberg, NY Daily News, February 14th 2010

When Mayor Bloomberg funneled $750,000 to a longtime Queens ally last fall, he thought he was buying a citywide poll watching operation.

He may have paid for a house in Forest Hills Gardens, too.

The house was the childhood home of John Haggerty Jr., the Republican operative who has claimed he was working as a volunteer on Bloomberg's third-term campaign.

Haggerty has ducked calls to explain how he spent the $750,000 payment, which went into his newly formed "Special Election Operations LLC."

The money was channeled through the state Independence Party, which got $1.2 million from Bloomberg's pocket right before Election Day.

Sources inside and outside the Bloomberg campaign say it was supposed to buy an extensive Election Day operation, with up to 300 workers paid $500 each to make sure there was no funny business at poll sites.

That only adds up to $150,000, though. One source says the Independence Party can't account for $300,000 to $400,000 of the rest of the money - and has drawn up legal papers against Haggerty to locate the rest.

"It's just infuriating," the source said. "Haggerty probably made money throughout the campaign one way or another."

Special Election Operations got its $750,000 on Dec. 11.(see financial report)

Six days later, Haggerty bought out his brother Bart's share of the family home - paying $1.6 million to the estate of their late father, records show.

It's unclear how much of the purchase was in cash, but Haggerty apparently did not take out a mortgage. The next month, records show, Bart had enough money to buy a $619,000 apartment in Forest Hills - again, apparently without a mortgage.

So where did the Haggerty brothers get that cash? After all, it had been almost a year and a half since their father, a respected longtime lawyer in Albany, passed away.

In his will, he split most of his estate between the brothers - though he gave an extra $30,000 to Bart "due to the extra care, support and effort he expended on my behalf."

Haggerty had another potential pot of Bloomberg cash to tap as well: The mayor gave $120,000 on Nov. 20 to a new political committee Haggerty set up, the 28th Assembly District Republican Committee.

He did not respond to messages left at the house last week, or at the Rego Park office he rents for political operations. Bart did not respond to an e-mail.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. has issued subpoenas in the case, which may deter them from talking even if Haggerty has done nothing wrong.

Bloomberg campaign officials have generally defended Haggerty, who ran Election Day operations for the mayor's 2001 and 2005 campaigns through the Republican Party.

They say he put together an extensive operation in November that could well have cost $750,000. Campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said the campaign offered to pay Haggerty a salary or bonus, but he declined - which he would have been unlikely to do if he really needed money.

"The suggestion is unfair," Wolfson said. "If he was interested in money, he didn't demonstrate that during the campaign."

Bloomberg Meets With G.O.P. Chairs, Leaves Fast
By Azi Paybarah, New York Observer, February 25, 2009

Michael Bloomberg met with the five county Republican leaders this morning to seek approval to run in their party's primary, then left after a brief exchange with reporters.

That job was, for the most part, left to Bloomberg campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson, who said that although the mayor would like to run on the Republican line, his administration would continue to "govern" in a nonpartisan manner.

Here's what the mayor said before he left: "It was a nice meeting. These are five county leaders and we talked about the economy, the economy of the country, the economy of New York City in particular. We talked about elections and politics obviously, and I said the last two times I ran, I ran on the Republican line and I’d be honored to run again. We’ll see what they decide to do. But it was a nice meeting, a constructive meeting and most of the politics we discussed were not actually politics of New York City. We just talked about national politics and how we all hope that President Obama will be a good president, and this is not a partisan thing on a national level. We have a new president and it’s time for everyone to pull together and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Then, pointing to me, he said, “And you got a haircut.”

Then he excused himself, saying that he was late for a meeting.

Since Bloomberg is not a member of any party--he dropped his Republican registration around the time top aide Kevin Sheekey was pumping up speculation about a presidential run--he will need approval from three of five county leaders to make it onto a primary ballot.

Bloomberg's meeting with the chairmen at the Metropolitan Republican Club on East 83rd Street lasted more than an hour.

He had walked in with a gaggle of aides including Republicans Matt Mahoney and John Haggerty. Haggerty worked on Bloomberg's 2005 campaign when the Queens Republicans were split between Bloomberg and a former Republican city councilman Tom Ognibene. Haggerty has also waged an intense war with the leadership of the Queens Republican Party, which is now led by Phil Ragusa. Ragusa has said he'd back the mayor if Bloomberg rejoined the Republican Party.

While waiting with reporters on the sidewalk, Wolfson was chided for uncharacteristically wearing a tie. More than once, reporters joked to Wolfson that the meeting was taking too long, with one TV reporter asking Wolfson, "How long does it take to write a check?"

Reporters laughed and Wolfson grinned before saying that "it takes a long time" to talk about the mayor's record of accomplishments.