Gun rights advocates recently discovered that the gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns has burrowed its "gun violence prevention coordinators" (read "anti-gun lobbyists") into city payrolls from Augusta, Maine to Seattle, Washington, at taxpayer expense. MAIG is the brainchild of New York City's zealous anti-gun billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who formed the group at a 2006 gun control summit held in Gracie Mansion and co-hosted by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. MAIG touts an agenda of "commonsense reforms" that gun rights advocates see as being somewhere on the far side of repealing the Second Amendment.
With a membership that started at 15 and now approaches 600 mayors, MAIG's agenda has expanded from tracking "illegal" guns used in crimes to promoting outright gun bans in Congress. But the tactic of slipping anti-gun operatives into municipal governments looks like something new.
Florida blogger Sean Caranna stumbled upon these gun control termites about a month ago while researching another project. The Orlando city council's website showed a contract renewal notice for a city employee with the job title, "Mayors Against Illegal Guns regional coordinator."
Caranna was stunned by the job description: to "play an integral role in the coordination and planning of gun crime prevention and illegal gun-related initiatives, events and media opportunities in the city and in the region." In the real world, that meant holding city-sponsored meetings to recruit anti-gun constituencies to undermine Second Amendment rights. Their slogans blared "gun crime" and "gun violence," misdirecting attention away from the real problem of gang violence.
Orlando taxpayers footed $24,000 of the job's $60,000 annual salary, prompting Caranna to look further. He turned up about a dozen other cities with a similar position and a similar burden on the city's general fund -- including Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Seattle.
Caranna called blogger Dave Workman in Seattle, who jumped on the story and found himself wondering about Orlando's $24,000 payment toward the salary's $60K total -- where did the other $36,000 come from?
He contacted Thomas L. Taylor with the City of Seattle's budget office, who confirmed that a now-discontinued position for a 'gun violence prevention coordinator' in the Office of Intergovernmental Relations had been "largely funded" by MAIG.
Workman found two grants for the position totaling $75,000, but the money was actually funneled through something called the United Against Illegal Guns Support Fund. Its president in 2010, when the grants were disbursed, was John Feinblatt, a close adviser to Mayor Bloomberg.
Where did UAIGSF get its money? The Foundation Center's huge grant database showed that it got $2.4 million in foundation money from 2008 to 2010, with $1.3 million coming from Chicago's rabidly anti-gun Joyce Foundation, where Barack Obama was once a board member.
Workman continued to shed light on the funding of MAIG, which was originally supported by Bloomberg ($3 million), insurance mogul Eli Broad ($750,000), and the Joyce Foundation ($1.1 million). When the Support Fund opened shop in 2008, Broad's private foundation and the Joyce Foundation continued as anti-gun donors.
Joyce incubated the idea of joint government and foundation funding for gun control activists in 2008 with a grant of $375,000 "To support four diverse 'mayors against illegal guns' coalition members in hiring city coordinators to act as regional point persons for the coalition."
Workman's database-surfing found $32.2 million in tax-exempt money pouring into various gun control pockets during the past decade. George Soros' Open Society Institute, for example, gave $600,000 to the Tides Foundation in 2002, "To support the donor advised fund for the Funders' Collaborative for Gun Violence Prevention."
Workman said, "Gun control has its donor advised funds and funders' collaboratives and city-funded parasites, but I rarely see such coordination among gun rights donors."
Perhaps conservative donors need to regroup their constitutional priorities.
Examiner Columnist Ron Arnold is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.