08/18/2010 03:13 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Did Mayor Bloomberg's 2009 Campaign Break the Law?

At the New York Observer we've been taking a close look at Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his finances, and what we've found raises more and more disturbing questions about the way the billionaire financed his historic third election in 2009. At issue: John F. Haggerty Jr. is an enigmatic Republican political consultant now facing criminal charges for allegedly stealing money from the mayor. Although it is Mr. Haggerty who may do time, the mayor's actions deserve more scrutiny than they've received so far. An extensive review of records and campaign documents by The Observer, as well as interviews with witnesses, indicate that Mr. Bloomberg funneled money to Mr. Haggerty, who claimed to be a "volunteer," sidestepping the political committee the mayor had promised to use to finance his election campaign. By deploying Mr. Haggerty and an unrelated political party, the the mayor's team avoided drawing attention to a controversial election day strategy that has often drawn fire from civil rights groups.

Bloomberg's representatives tell the Observer it was all legal, but experts say Bloomberg may have violated New York State and city campaign finance laws.

It is one thing for a billionaire to run the most expensive private campaign in US history, spending a record $109 million. But it is something else to intentionally flout, if not break, financial disclosure laws in the process.

The story is called "The Secret Campaign of Mayor Mike."