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De Blasio Defends Taking $2.5M From Taxpayers to Fund Campaign

By Gwynne Hogan | August 4, 2017 4:02pm
 Mayor Bill de Blasio will get more than $2.5 million in matching funds for his campaign. 
Mayor Bill de Blasio will get more than $2.5 million in matching funds for his campaign. 
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Bill de Blasio stood by his decision to take on more than $2.5 million in matching funds from taxpayers — saying he'd be forced to turn to big donors instead of everyday New Yorkers to fund his reelection, despite having raised millions more than his nearest competitor.

Speaking on WNYC's the Brain Lehrer show Friday morning, de Blasio, who had raised $4.78 million in private funds according to city records, said he didn't take the upcoming 2018 election for granted and said he relied on the city's matching funds program to focus fundraising efforts on small donations.

"You cannot assume the outcome. People who do that are sorely disappointed," he said.

"We focused on house parties and we focused on reaching out to every day New Yorkers," he said. "Now if you had said...you’re not going to have access to a serious amount of matching funds than that would encourage me or any other candidate to go try and find larger donations and that's not the world I think we should be creating."

The city's campaign finance board approved $2,579,427 in public funds to go towards de Blasio's reelection campaign on Thursday.

He was the only mayoral candidate so far to be approved of matching funds through the city's $6 to $1 matching program which allows candidates to earn up to $1,050 in public funds per small donation, once candidates show they've raised more than $250,000 from 1,000 small contributors in all five boroughs.

This election cycle de Blasio took in half a million dollars in funds from fundraisers including $68,750 from WeWork Executive Arana Hankin, $56,030 from Suri Kasirer of Kasirer Consulting, $44,940 from James Capalino of Capalino & Company and $30,100 from Eugene Schneur of developer Omni New York, records show.

Former City Councilman Sal Albanese, State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and Eliseo Santos also applied but didn't raise enough to qualify.

De Blasio opponent Albanese, who raised $124,124, according to city records, said granting de Blasio $2.5 million more in public funds wasn't fair.

“It’s overkill in terms of getting his message out,” Albanese said. “We’re all struggling to get to the matching threshold."

“He shouldn't’t be receiving that kind of public money. He’s so well funded already, there’s no reason for him to get an additional 2.5 million dollars," he said. 

Malliotakis, a Republican who is de Blaiso's nearest opponent raised $344,421, according to her campaign's July disclosure.

Other announced candidates Robert Gangi, campaigning on police reform, had raised $62,866 and Akeem Browder, Kalief Browder's brother who's pushing to close Rikers sooner than de Blasio's ten-year plan had raised $934, records show.

De Blasio's fundraising efforts during his 2013 campaign were subject to much scrutiny and the subject of multiple criminal probes, though ultimately he didn't face any charges.