Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” Has Barely-Bipartisan Support in Ohio
The “bipartisan” support claimed by Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), a national coalition of more than 700 mostly progressive mayors, is slim and dwindling in Ohio. MAIG, founded by anti-Second Amendment New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has coordinated with leftist groups and staffers in Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman’s office to target Ohioans’ gun rights.
Between 2009 and May 2012, Republican membership in the Ohio contingent of MAIG – which includes more than 100 mayors across the state – fell from 5 mayors to 2 mayors. The two remaining Republican members, according to MAIG’s list, are Wyoming mayor Barry Porter and Bratenahl mayor John Licastro.
Media Trackers contacted both mayors to see if they were still part of the coalition. Mayor Licastro did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
When asked about his personal beliefs and the Republican Party’s stance on the Second Amendment, Mayor Porter wrote that he supported the party’s official position and supported “the right to own a gun legally.” After he was shown prior Media Trackers coverage of MAIG’s work in Ohio, Porter said that he did not support the efforts of the group which listed him as a member.
Porter replied that he had not been a member of MAIG “for some time now.”
MAIG spokeswoman Erika Soto Lamb, director of The Raben Group - the liberal lobbying firm from which principal Mark Glaze directs MAIG - provided documentation that Porter joined the coalition in 2007. She claimed that Porter “has remained on our email list, and we have received no formal request from him to be removed from our membership.”
“If he would like to leave our coalition, we would be happy to oblige,” she added in a November 5 e-mail to Media Trackers.
Media Trackers followed up with Porter and asked whether he planned to contact The Raben Group or Bloomberg’s office to make clear his desire to end his affiliation with MAIG, but Porter did not respond.
In 2009, the Buckeye Firearms Association, a Second Amendment advocacy group based in central Ohio, reported a wave of departures from MAIG by Ohio mayors concerned about the group’s true motives.
“I hereby, effective immediately, resign my membership in the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition. I am withdrawing because you are attempting to erode all gun ownership, not just illegal guns,” wrote Walton Hills Mayor Marlene Anielski in an August 17, 2009 letter to Bloomberg.
“Regrettably, it has become continuously clear to me that you are using this coalition of mayors to advance a hidden agenda of bringing lawsuits against members of the firearms industry and spreading anti-gun propaganda,” Anielski added.
Fearing that a similar mass dropout was imminent in September 2010, a Bloomberg staffer forwarded a list of MAIG talking points to former MAIG Ohio Coordinator R. Lee Roberts, who worked from the Columbus mayor’s office on a grant from the liberal Joyce Foundation.
“I wouldnt circulate these unless someone is being attacked repeatedly and is asking for help/explanation,” Bloomberg Firearms Policy Coordinator Janey Rountree noted in a September 29, 2010 email. “Otherwise it comes across as too defensive.”
Following Media Trackers reports about his work with MAIG, Roberts – who was hired by Coleman’s office based upon a history of Democrat campaign experience - resigned from his position in August 2012 to pursue a degree at Capital University Law School.
“As Mayors, we are duty-bound to do everything in our power to protect our residents, especially our children, from harm and there is no greater threat to public safety than the threat of illegal guns,” MAIG’s statement of principles reads.
Contrary to MAIG’s claims that the group simply opposes “illegal guns,” internal emails obtained by Media Trackers revealed that while working from Coleman’s office, Roberts coordinated with Bloomberg staffers and far-left ProgressOhio to limit Second Amendment rights in Ohio on at least two different occasions.