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Campaign Funding Is Too Rich for Mike

2009 races could cost cash-strapped city $90 million.

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Billionaire Mike Bloomberg had enough of his own money that he didn’t need to rely on the city’s generous campaign-finance system when he ran for office. Nonetheless, he worries it’s too generous. “What sounded like a good idea and relatively cost-free is going to cost a lot of money,” he says. Thanks to a combination of term limits (which are forcing incumbent pols to run for new offices and others to run for the seats they’re vacating) and new laws (which raise spending limits and match $6 for every $1 raised in donations under $175), insiders estimate that the city could end up spending $90 million in matching funds on the 2009 local races, making it by far the most expensive election in New York history. Bloomberg has a reform suggestion: “If you don’t have any competition, you shouldn’t get money, and you shouldn’t be able to hire relatives.” But he knows how that’ll play in the press. “The Times will write that you should have the right to hire anybody you want, and you never know whether the competition is serious or not,” he says. “And it’ll give the Post a good story.”

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