A leaked memo from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s failed 2014 effort to take control of the State Senate details how De Blasio’s associates, acting on behalf of candidates, knowingly and willfully solicited, organized and coordinated for the purpose of evading contribution limits. That type of activity may constitute a Class E Felony under Section 14-126(6) of the New York State Election Law, investigators have said.

According to Politico New York, it was one of a series of memos on so-called “earmarking” that were distributed by de Blasio’s team to political consultants who the Mayor now says are exempt from state Freedom of Information Law Requirements under the “Agents of the City” exemption.[1] Senator Terrence Murphy today introduced legislation that would make agents of the city subject to FOIL requirements.

“Abusing exemptions to hide from freedom of information law requirements is completely unacceptable,” Senator Murphy said. “These agents of the city might have conflicts when they are advising the Mayor as political consultants at the same time as they are working as lobbyists for entities with pending business for the City. If the Mayor has done nothing wrong then he should have nothing to fear from the sunshine and transparency that my legislation will bring about by making these so-called agents of the city subject to FOIL.”

The legislation, Senate Bill S8014, would clarify is are subject to the inter and intra agency exception pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law and limit the ability of private contractors with State and Municipal Agencies from representing clients before those agencies while such a contract is in effect. It is expected to be fast-tracked to the Senate floor as part of the negotiations on a broader ethics reform package that could also include Senator Murphy’s legislation to heighten campaign finance penalties.

A memorandum from Team de Blasio suggests they believed their activity would be illegal earmarking activity only if contributors gave to a straw donor to evade contribution limits knowing how their contribution was being used and refunneled to a candidate.

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