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Bronx pol steered $1.4 million to project tied to donors

The contributions and interactions between Exact Capital's principals, their relatives and the councilman left good-government groups aghast. "It appears to be a deliberate attempt to subvert the ethics and intent of our campaign finance law," said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause/NY. Lerner reiterated her group's longstanding calls for a public disclosure of charitable contributions made at an elected official's request, and suggested the city tighten its law restricting contributions from interested parties so relatives are also covered. More broadly, she argued, the city should embrace recommendations from the Regional Plan Association to rework the public approval process for projects such as Blondell Commons. Comprehensive planning would replace piecemeal zoning changes and enhance transparency and public participation. "It's been a pervasive problem that neighborhoods are struggling with: how these projects are determined, how are they funded, who authorizes them, and what input the community has," Lerner said.