This story has been updated and an editor’s note is appended.
Saturday’s front page New York Times story on New York City mayoral candidate Bill Thompson highlighted his ties to city businessmen going back to Thompson’s days as comptroller.
The report detailed Thompson’s eight-year tenure as city comptroller and the large city pension deals awarded to financial firms. Executives from some of those firms had donated to Thompson’s earlier campaigns.
Under Securities and Exchange Commission rules created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform in 2010, such donations would be illegal today. But Thompson’s term ended in 2009 so the rule did not affect those donors.
But the Times report by David Halbfinger raised a question about a supporter of Thompson’s current campaign who benefits from pension deals.
During an appearance on Saturday’s Up with Steve Kornacki, Thompson explained he was not the only one who decided who got city pension fund business.
“The mayor chairs the boards of all the pension funds. It isn’t just me making recommendations.” Thompson said.
One beneficiary of the city pension fund deals was Advent Capital, a financial firm whose CEO, Tracy Maitland, is also a former Thompson fundraiser.
According to the Times, Maitland has been involved in Thompson’s 2013 mayoral bid. “Friends say Mr. Maitland made calls seeking support for Mr. Thompson’s current mayoral bid,” the Times report said. “But Mr. Maitland played down any role.” Halbfinger told Up with Steve Kornacki that he was told Maitland had been seeking financial support.
Maitland’s lawyer Ken Gross said in a subsequent interview on Sept. 11th _ 10 days after this story was originally published _ that “Maitland did not solicit or make any contributions to Bill Thompson since the SEC law of March 14, 2011 went into effect and even sometime before. Maitland did not violate any campaign finance or securities laws.”
The SEC regulations that prevent executives from donating to candidates and elected officials with control over pension funds, also prohibit these executives from soliciting contributions for a candidate.
Gross, an expert in campaign finance law with the firm Skadden Arps, spoke broadly in an earlier interview about the complexity of the rules. “There is a landmine of rules that have to be navigated between federal and local law,” Gross said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been updated and rewritten throughout to clarify facts in the story and to include fresh comment from Maitland’s lawyer. The original post, published Sept. 1, 2013 and headlined: “Thompson ally could face SEC investigation,” stated that if the SEC investigated and confirmed that Maitland solicited donations to Thompson’s campaign, that Maitland could be fined. There is no evidence that Maitland, or his connections to Thompson, are the subject of any investigation. The original post also stated that Advent Capital was doing $324 million in business with New York City. In fact, that figure describes the amount of money the city invested in Advent in 2008. The updated version further clarifies that in his original comment, Gross was speaking broadly about campaign finance laws and did not specifically address Maitland whose firm Advent Capital, is a client of Skadden Arps.