The race for mayor continued to heat up Wednesday as challenger Tom Hayden and Mayor Richard Riordan accused each other of selling their influence to campaign contributors--one to a trash firm, the other to “junk bond kings.”
Hayden, a Democratic state senator from the Westside, charged that junk bond specialists have given more than $100,000 to Riordan and his charter reform campaign in an effort to buy “the keys to the mayor’s office.”
Riordan’s campaign responded by accusing Hayden of voting for a 1989 bill sponsored by Waste Management of North America while accepting $2,000 in contributions from the firm.
The charges and countercharges have become almost routine since Hayden launched his bid last month to unseat an incumbent who holds a commanding lead in the polls and in campaign fund-raising.
Hayden’s latest charge concerns contributions by investment advisors and others with ties to Drexel Burnham Lambert, the defunct investment firm that employed junk bond wizard Michael Milken.
Several of the directors of Drexel Burnham now work at Apollo Advisors, an investment firm.
“The measure of a mayor is by the company he keeps,” Hayden said at a news conference near City Hall, “or by the company that keeps him.”
Apollo and two of its top executives gave $25,000 to a Riordan-backed committee to support candidates for a citizens panel that would overhaul the city’s 72-year-old charter.
An additional $95,000 came from firms and business executives who have done business with Apollo and Drexel Burnham, Hayden said.
Hayden suggested that the investment bankers contributed to the campaigns in hopes that the charter commission will draft a charter that allows Apollo to make investments with the city’s pension funds.
“It’s an investment in a hostile takeover of the city’s assets in the guise of charter reform,” Hayden said.
But Anthony Ressler, who worked at Drexel Burnham and helped form Apollo, rejected such charges, saying he contributed $7,500 to the reform effort because “I happen to think that the city would be a better city with the mayor and the council creating a better charter.”
He said he recently hosted a fund-raiser for Riordan’s reelection campaign because “I think Mayor Riordan is a good mayor.”
Riordan’s campaign manager, Julio Ramirez, fired back by questioning Hayden for accepting money from Waste Management while supporting a bill sponsored by the firm.
The bill put weight restrictions on trash trucks used by public agencies that compete with Waste Management.
“This guy has gone on his pulpit about contributions. Now it’s time to come clean and start practicing what he preaches,” Ramirez said.
A spokesman for Hayden said he couldn’t confirm whether Hayden accepted the donations or voted for the Waste Management bill.