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The Community Outreach Unit run by the New York City Council has served as a public relations machine and boosted the name recognition of Council President Christine Quinn thereby helping her mayoral bid according to The New York Times. The unit that has organized rallies and sponsored education fairs has a payroll that tops $1 million. Employees of the unit include a former Quinn campaign aide, a political operative from a union whose support Quinn has courted and a former spokesman for a Quinn ally. The employees have not been shy about their enthusiasm for Quinn. Quinn told the Times that she is "proud" of the unit. While a great deal of councilmembers interviewed by the times had no idea what the office did others said the office was designed only to serve Quinn.
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Legislators returning from a spring break that saw the arrest of two of their colleagues on corruption charges find themselves in a new Albany where ethics reform is at the top of everyone's to-do list. And everyone has got a plan.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver unveiled his plan for public financing of campaigns today that includes six-to-one matching funds that would be paid for by taxpayers who opt in on state tax forms and with money recovered from securities fraud.
Silver's plan did not address the Wilson Pakula law that allows for cross-party endorsements. The law has come under scrutiny since state Sen. Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, was arrested on corruption allegations that he tried to bribe his way onto the Republican line for New York City Mayor.
The group that took perhaps the biggest hit from the recent scandal was the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference that had appointed Smith the chair of their five-memmber conference.
The IDC expelled Smith and, last Friday, issued its own campaign finance reform plans.