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Bloomberg to take stand in trial against ex-campaign adviser

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Photo Credit: Getty Images

Defense lawyers are hoping Mayor Michael Bloomberg's famous self-confidence will trip him up when he testifies Monday against the political consultant accused of stealing more than $1 million from him, legal and political experts say.

John Haggerty is charged with pocketing money he was given to provide a high-priced poll-watching operation for Bloomberg's 2009 re-election bid. Haggerty convinced the billionaire mayor to give the state Independence Party the money — which he allegedly used to buy a house — to finance "ballot security" during his re-election campaign.

Doug Muzzio, a professor at the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, said the defense team will try to use Bloomberg's own self-confidence against him when he takes the witness stand in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.

"He believes that he is right. He never looks back," Muzzio said. "They've got to hope that the mayor in his arrogance says something that damns him."

Haggerty's attorneys have said they plan to refocus the trial on whether funneling money through the state Independence Party, rather than paying Haggerty directly, was a violation of campaign finance law intended to distance the mayor from "ballot security," a practice some say discriminates against minority voters.

Jerry Goldfeder, a campaign finance and election attorney who worked for Bloomberg's opponent in 2009, Democrat Bill Thompson, however, said he expected the mayor's testimony to be straightforward and that he'll tread carefully.

Bloomberg already testified during the case's grand jury proceedings, which are conducted in secret and without cross examination — a far cry from sitting in the witness stand in open court with a hostile defense lawyer and dozens of reporters hanging on every word.

(with Reuters)

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