An Architect of Public Campaign Financing Switches Sides

In fact, it’s all a bit surprising, the way things have turned out. “I thought it would make incumbents officials less inclined to seek more campaign finance regulations, but it clearly hasn’t,” he said.

Among Mr. Laufer’s current clients, not incidentally, are some of the most brazen violators of the spirit, if not the letter, of his original campaign finance rules. To name one example, Mr. Laufer represents Larry Seabrook, the councilman in Brooklyn and the Bronx who accepted tens of thousands of dollars in matching funds for a re-election race against George Rubin, an unknown conservative Republican in a heavily Democratic district who didn’t raise a single dollar.

Mr. Seabrook claimed at the time that the “high spending” campaign of Michael Bloomberg was supporting his opponent. But shortly after getting his money—more than $70,000—he endorsed Mr. Bloomberg.

Mr. Laufer was also hired by Pedro Espada Jr., who was fined $61,750 by the Board in connection with his 2001 race for Bronx borough president, and he helped Ms. Gotbaum and Mr. Thompson deal with violations that resulted in fines of $1,550 and $1,875, respectively. Some of Mr. Laufer’s clients also have cases pending in front of the board, including the 2005 mayoral campaign of former Council Speaker Gifford Miller, which ran into trouble by paying for campaign-type literature to be created and sent to voters using taxpayer money.

Mr. Laufer declined to speak specifically about Mr. Seabrook or any other clients for this article.

When asked about whether his work in helping city officials find ways around the rules is somehow undoing his earlier efforts, he said, “I don’t really see that as exploiting loopholes. They want to understand what the rules are, what they’re allowed to do, what they’re not allowed to do. I don’t think these laws change the basic nature of politicians or whatever reason they want to get elected. It doesn’t really have an impact on that motivation.”

An Architect of Public Campaign Financing Switches Sides