Rift Builds Between Bloomberg, D.C. Republicans
WASHINGTON – Bad blood continues to boil between New York City officials and Republicans in Washington, leading to the abrupt cancellation of a Monday meeting at Mayor Michael Bloomberg's (search) home with national party fund-raisers.
Bloomberg had been scheduled to host Thomas Reynolds (search), National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, and Bob Ney (search), co-chair of the NRCC's incumbent retention committee, at a lunch with wealthy politically active New Yorkers.
The fissure comes at a particularly sensitive time in the relationship between the Republican Bloomberg and national Republicans, two months before the party visits New York City to renominate President Bush.
In the past, party leaders have complained that Bloomberg is not enough of a team player, and Bloomberg has pledged not to help Republican candidates raise money in the city if they fail to support the city's interests.
Sources who were to have attended Monday's meeting said it was scrapped after Bloomberg told officials that Ney would not be welcome at the event.
A Bloomberg spokesman declined to comment.
The mayor is angry that the Ohio congressman voted last week against moving anti-terror funding (search) from rural areas to big cities.
Ney and a majority of House members voted against an amendment by Rep. John Sweeney (search), R-N.Y., that would have transferred nearly $450 million from a general fund for states to a separate fund for cities at high risk of terror attacks. The vote potentially cost New York City millions of dollars to fight terrorism.
After the vote, Bloomberg charged Congress has made homeland security a pork-barrel program (search), doling out money to rural areas that don't need it as much as big cities like New York.
NRCC spokesman Carl Forti denied Monday's meeting had been canceled. He said it had to be shelved because of a scheduling conflict.
Forti would not say what the scheduling conflict was or when the meeting would take place, and he would not discuss Bloomberg's position on Ney's invitation.
"The NRCC is not a policy committee; we're a political committee, and we don't take positions on policy," he said.
Forti said the get-together at Bloomberg's town house Monday was a "pre-sale event" for tickets to an NRCC president's dinner fund-raiser in Washington on July 21.
That event, at which Bush will be the keynote speaker, is expected to raise $21 million for the NRCC and its Senate equivalent.
One New Yorker who was to have attended the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the cancellation grew out of the mayor's anger at Ney.
"It was canceled based on Congressman Ney's vote," the person said.
Ney spokesman Brian Walsh declined to comment, referring questions to the NRCC.
NRCC chairman Reynolds, an upstate congressman, has supported New York's efforts to get more security dollars from Washington, but as chairman of the NRCC and an important player in Republican leadership circles he also has strong obligations to the national party.
Kathy Wylde, the president of Partnership for New York City, a group of New York business leaders, declined to discuss the canceled lunch, saying she was unaware of the issue.
But she stressed the importance of homeland security funding to the business community of New York, a city that historically donates more than any other to political parties.
"We're the highest-risk city in America, which is not something to brag about," said Wylde. "As the mayor has pointed out, it's untenable that members of Congress wouldn't recognize this, particularly with the Republican National Convention (search) coming on, where our security costs are estimated to be about $50 million."