Liu To Bloomberg: Reform ‘Law-Breaking’ EDC

johnliu Liu To Bloomberg: Reform Law Breaking EDCCity Comptroller John C. Liu today sent a letter to Mayor Mike Bloomberg to change what he called the “law-breaking” culture at the Economic Development Corporation.

The missive comes as the EDC has been ordered to restructure  as part of a recent settlement reached with New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, who found that the agency illegally lobbied City Council members as part of their effort to redevelop Willets Point in Queens  and Coney Island in Brooklyn.

“The legal restructuring of the EDC, which appears to have been undertaken so that the impermissible lobbying can continue, is clearly insufficient. It amounts to nothing more than business as usual, notwithstanding knowingly allowing the use of taxpayer dollars for unlawful purposes,” wrote Mr. Liu.  “Installing new leadership and opening the books would help change the EDC’s law-breaking culture, which, as documented in the settlement with the Attorney General, used the agency’s budget as a political slush fund for illegal lobbying.”‘

Mr. Liu also called on all of EDC finances to be made publicly available online.

The full letter is below:

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

Last week your Administration admitted in a settlement with the New
York State Attorney General that the New York City Economic
Development Corporation (EDC) knowingly and illegally lobbied City
Council members about your development agenda.

The legal restructuring of the EDC, which appears to have been
undertaken so that the impermissible lobbying can continue, is clearly
insufficient. It amounts to nothing more than business as usual,
notwithstanding knowingly allowing the use of taxpayer dollars for
unlawful purposes.

Installing new leadership and opening the books would help change the
EDC’s law-breaking culture, which, as documented in the settlement
with the Attorney General, used the agency’s budget as a political
slush fund for illegal lobbying.

I also urge you to finally open the EDC’s books to the public. The
EDC’s FY 2013 budget is projected to exceed $800 million.  It’s time
to post all of the EDC’s spending online on a daily basis, as other
City agencies now do through Checkbook NYC.

To this end, I urge you to move swiftly to identify those senior
officials from City Hall and the EDC responsible for the flagrant and
repeated law-breaking activities, and hold them accountable.

As someone who has signed into law a number of lobbying reforms and
been outspoken on the need for “insulating policymakers from the sway
of special and moneyed interests” and strengthening the “taxpayers’
faith in their elected and appointed representatives,” I trust you
agree that accountability and transparency in government are
imperative.

These actions are necessary to prevent further waste of taxpayer
money. I look forward to your prompt action in these matters.

Sincerely,

John C. Liu