Let’s start with the “crooked” problem. As City Journal’s Bob McManus put it: “You would have to go back to Jimmy Walker, and maybe earlier than that, to find a mayor so egregiously inclined to use the municipal fisc as a political piggy bank.”
New York City has tough campaign finance laws, complete with a generous 8:1 match of public funds for smaller contributions — all designed to stop officeholders from selling access and favors.
After taking office in 2014, de Blasio did a complete end-run around those limits by setting up a nonprofit he controlled, the Campaign for One New York — and selling City Hall to CONY donors.
The most notorious favor was the lifting of a deed restriction: With City Hall pushing bureaucrats to OK the change, a developer paid $16.1 million to remove the requirement that a building be a health care facility — and made a $72 million profit by turning it into high-end condos.
News of such outrages eventually led the mayor to shut down CONY, even as he protested that many donors didn’t get favors. But when he finally released a long-promised column on that point, he only managed to specify four favors that donors didn’t get — and two of those donors did get other rewards.