The website for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group formed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to push stronger gun safety laws, is registered to NYC government servers and administered by NYC government staffers, according to Politico, raising questions about whether Bloomberg has blurred the line between his dual roles as mayor and advocate.
The domain names for the gun group - mayorsagainstillegalguns.com and mayorsagainstillegalguns.org - are both registered under the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, which was first reported by Ace of Spades blogger John Ekdahl.
Bloomberg has poured millions of dollars into an "action fund" associated with the group, lobbying members of Congress and the public to support stricter gun control laws. Critics have questioned why a website associated with a group that spends millions of dollars of private money on political causes is being managed by the city government.
Bloomberg's aides forcefully defended the arrangement, batting down questions of impropriety by pointing out the distinction between Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which is the coalition of mayors, and the group's "action fund," which is the vehicle for political spending.
The activities of the mayors' group "are in the interest of keeping New York City safe," John McCarthy, a spokesman for Bloomberg, told Politico. "He is acting in his capacity as mayor of New York City."
Critics have raised the possibility that taxpayer resources are being devoted to the mayor's non-profit advocacy, and some say Bloomberg could have avoided any confusion by simply demarcating the group's web presence more clearly from the city government.
""While the campaign activities may be supported and coordinated by the mayor's office, given that it's an independent nonprofit it is always cleaner to have a separation of operation like having a stand-alone website," Dick Dadey, a city government watchdog with a group called Citizens Union, told Politico.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns has taken on an increasingly high profile in recent months as the battle over America's gun laws hit Capitol Hill in the wake of the December massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut. Bloomberg has said he wants the group to provide a counterweight to the powerful National Rifle Association, which has long fought stronger gun restrictions.
After a proposal that would have expanded background checks for gun purchasesin April, Bloomberg's group senators who opposed the measure, buying ads that pushed lawmakers to reconsider their opposition.