Minarik and Drum Major

The State Republican Party tends not to meddle in local politics, so it seems safe to assume that the Bloomberg campaign is behind this letter to Eliot Spitzer released today. The letter demands that Spitzer investigate the Drum Major Institute for “unlawful partisan political activity.”

Now this makes superficial sense. Freddy used to be president of the think tank, which is the baby of one of his top fund-raisers, Bill Wachtel. The GOP’s other pieces of evidence are that Ferrer has incorporated a Drum Major report into his policy work, and that another report attacked the Mayor on education policy. The idea that DMI is a Ferrer campaign adjunct is something that lots of reporters have toyed with and rejected, though Mike’s campaign has been pushing it hard.

But while it’s an appealing theory, it happens not really to be true. The closer you look, the more the story with Drum Major — as The Politicker has noted before — is how little it has to do with Freddy’s campaign, not how much. Much of the group’s work has focused on rating federal legislators. And Drum Major’s recent attack on the Mayor’s school policy blew up in Freddy’s face without Freddy gaining from it in any way.

What’s more, GOP Chairman Steve Minarik’s stance seems to have some rather harsh consequences for free speech, and for any kind of politics of ideas. Even if a politician leans more heavily than Freddy has on the work of a non-profit, that’s a crime?

Rudy Giuliani and the Manhattan Institute would have been in big trouble. The American Enterprise Institute would shut its doors tomorrow, and the Progressive Policy Institute would have been indicted during the Clinton campaign.

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