- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 2, 2013


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is to the Second Amendment what billionaire investor George Soros is to the free market: A resounding death knell.

Recall Soros, in 2009, when he announced a $50 million campaign, complete with creation of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, to reform teachings about the economy so that the free market was painted as a failed experiment.

Now fast-forward to 2013, and here comes New York City’s Bloomberg, with an estimated net worth of $25 billion and similarly lofty goals aimed at dismantling another of America’s cherished principles — this one, the right to keep and bear arms.

His approach is multi-tiered.

Bloomberg created Independence USA PAC in late 2012 to “support candidates and causes that will help protect Americans from the scourge of gun violence, improve our schools, and advance our freedoms,” he said, on the PAC website. And he’s putting his money where his mouth is. The PAC records eight donations in October and November 2012 for a total receipt of $10.04 million — all contributed by Bloomberg, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Gun control has become a main focus; the PAC just paid $2 million for anti-gun advertisements in Chicago, where the race for Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s House seat has entered high gear.

“I happen to have some money, and that’s what I’m going to do with my money — try to get us some sensible gun laws,” Bloomberg said, in a widely reported statement in which he expressed anger at the National Rifle Association’s influence with legislators.

But that’s only a drop in the bucket of the mayor’s campaign against guns. And the most open one.

Bloomberg created the Mayors Against Illegal Guns in April 2006 to fight for “common-sense reforms that combat the flow of illegal guns into our cities and towns,” according to the mission statement on the nonprofit’s website. Since, the group’s membership has grown to “more than 850 mayors from 44 states,” the website touts. Yet few of these members back their membership with financial contributions. Nearly all of the $3.38 million donations to the group’s fundraising arm, Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund, reported for the period of January 2011 to August 2012 came from one source: Bloomberg.

A Form 9 filing with the Federal Election Commission for this time period highlights: Of the 76 recorded donations to the Fund for this 2011-12 time frame, Bloomberg made 66 of them. The remaining 10 donations were made by six different individuals. So does the Mayors Against Illegal Guns mission truly represent the will of mayors around the nation — or are they more silent partners, jumping aboard a feel-good mission for political capital, or out of public relations pressure?

John McCarthy, a spokesman for Bloomberg, didn’t respond to questions for comment. But if money talks, it’s a personal Bloomberg agenda that’s doing the speaking.

The key players for this Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund are all Bloomberg pals, too. The Form 9, prepared by Arkadi Gerney, lists two names as the main controllers of the group: Richard DeScherer and Diane Gubelli. Gubelli is the treasurer of the Independence USA Pac that Bloomberg chairs. Gerney is a senior fellow at the leftist Center for American Progress who focuses on crime and gun policy — and a former first deputy in Bloomberg’s mayor office, focusing on criminal justice. And DeScherer — he’s not only the chief legal officer of Bloomberg L.P., and a partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, who brought aboard Bloomberg as a long-standing client. But he’s also the vice president and director of another of Bloomberg’s anti-gun nonprofits — United Against Illegal Guns Support Fund.

This is an interesting group, with even more interesting ties to Bloomberg.

Joining DeScherer on the board of directors is John Feinblatt, who serves as president, and Ed Skyler, as treasurer. Feinblatt’s full-time job is as chief advisor of policy and strategy for Bloomberg in the office of the mayor. Skyler, meanwhile, is a former deputy mayor for operations in New York City and — along with Hillary Clinton — one of Bloomberg’s rumored top choices for candidacy in the upcoming mayoral elections.

But the group’s mission is most enlightening: It works, in part, to uphold the agenda of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group. And it does so in ingenious fashion. Form 990 filings posted by Guidestar.org for 2010, the latest date available, reveal that the group spent tens of thousands of dollars “to hire a city coordinator to act as regional point person for all the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition” in various municipalities around the nation.

For instance, the Form 990 reveals, the group spent $48,000 for a city coordinator position to be created and filled in Lewiston, Maine. It spent another $60,000 for the same reason in Minneapolis, Minn. And $93,604 for the same in Reading, Wash. And another $60,000 for the same in Columbus, Ohio.

Get the picture?

Again, Bloomberg’s spokesman did not respond for comment. But the picture drawn by FEC and IRS filings seems clear: Bloomberg’s push against the Second Amendment is a well-funded, well-organized, and multi-faceted effort carried out by players with long-standing professional loyalties to the mayor. The fight back for constitutional rights needs to be just as crafty, and coordinated.



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