Bloomberg Uses City Money to Push Gun Agenda

NEW YORK -

Mayor Michael Bloomberg sent a city employee to lobby Nevada’s legislature to pass a bill on gun control, a pet project of the New York City mayor’s, according to a report in the New York Post.

Christopher Kocher, who is on the city payroll as a special counsel to the mayor’s office, was sent to Nevada to lobby for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national group Bloomberg co-founded. The group wanted Nevada to enforce background checks on all firearm sales in that state.

Bloomberg is allowed to use city employees and resources — and indeed he does — to promote gun control laws in areas such as Washington, D.C. and states life Virginia, where guns are sold that are brought into the Big Apple. But it would be hard to connect a city interest to passing a gun control bill in Nevada.

“It doesn’t seem kosher to me,” Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the New York Public Interest Research Group, told the Post. “It’s hard to see how gun control in Nevada makes the city safer in New York.”

Kocher apparently realized that his behavior was not completely legal; he removed his City Hall email address from Nevada’s lobbying-registration website early this month.

A Bloomberg aide argued that city governments frequently lobby state and national leaders to push legislation related to the city’s well-being on issues ranging from mass transit to health care.

“With 85 percent of guns used in crimes here coming from out of state, gun policy everywhere has an impact on the safety of New Yorkers,” John McCarthy, a spokesman for the mayor, said. “The mayor’s top priority is keeping New Yorkers safe, and that includes seeking sane gun laws in other states … to help reduce the flow of illegal guns to New York.”

Russianoff said he was still not convinced that sending a lobbyist to Albany or Washington could be compared to sending to Nevada.

“They deal with jurisdictions that have sway over our future, and Nevada does not,” he said.

Bloomberg, one of the 25 wealthiest Americans, has spent millions of his own money promoting gun control. Which is why some people cannot understand why he used a city employee to advance the issue.

“With Bloomberg,” one lobbyist with the city said, “one of his strengths is that, because money is no object, he could just go rent office space. It seems like they’re being sloppy.”