Mayor Giuliani’s reelection campaign has launched internal audits to determine whether any corporate contributors gave donations that exceeded the $7,700 limit allowed by the city’s public campaign finance law.
Campaign officials disclosed the reviews after the Daily News reported that a company that landed a lucrative recycling contract gave $77,500 to Giuliani’s reelection drive after concluding the deal.
Campaign treasurer John Gross described the audits as a regular process designed to insure that Giuliani does not violate campaign finance laws as he runs for a second term.
Based on an initial review, Gross and Giuliani said they did not believe any other givers had contributed amounts above the $7,700 limit.
“I’m not aware of it,” Giuliani said yesterday, adding that his campaign “returns money any time there are questions.”
The campaign pledged to refund all of the contributions made by Pratt Industries U.S.A. after the Daily News reported that the firm got a no-bid city contract to build a $250 million recycling plant on Staten Island. The deal calls for the firm to process up to half the discarded newspaper and wastepaper in the city.
Giuliani yesterday dismissed the company’s excess contributions as “technical violations” of the campaign finance law, which gives taxpayer-funded contributions to candidates who agree to abide by limits on their private fund-raising.
The law bars companies and subsidiaries they control from giving a total of more than $7,700 to a single candidate who accepts public campaign funds.
The News reported on Saturday that the firm and nine subsidiaries began making contributions to Giuliani in January 1996, two weeks after reaching the recycling deal with the Giuliani administration.
City officials said there was no connection between the contract award and the political contributions, and Gross said the campaign discovered the overpayments and initiated refunds without any prompting.
“Anyone who would like to investigate our finances can have at it,” Gross said.
But three Democrats vying for the nomination to challenge Giuliani in November called for an investigation of the Pratt contributions.
The three, Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger and the Rev. Al Sharpton, charged that the contributions raised questions about Giuliani’s fund-raising.
“This looks like the worst kind of government quid pro quo since the corruption scandals that United States Attorney Giuliani uncovered nearly a dozen years ago,” Ferrer said.
Giuliani fired back, accusing the Democrats of using the issue for political purposes.
Original Story Date: 02/17/97