MAIG was founded in 2006 by then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and then-Boston Mayor Thomas Menino on the theory that mayors have a closer, more direct under-standing of the problems of violence. But Bloomberg, with his willingness to use his vast personal fortune to attack the Second Amendment, quickly became the face of the organization.
New York-based MAIG is a relatively small outfit. According to its tax filing from the most recent publicly available tax year (2011), the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund group took in $3,476,643 that year and spent $2,834,151. It has received little support from the philanthropic establishment. Its two foundation donors are the David Bohnett Foundation of Beverly Hills, Calif. ($185,000 since 2007) and the Public Welfare Foundation ($25,000 in 2008). (Bohnett founded GeoCities, an Internet-based media and e-commerce company that was bought by Yahoo! Inc. in 1999.)
MAIG Action also spreads its wealth around. In 2011 it gave grants to other anti-gun and leftist groups such as Coalition to Stop Gun Violence ($210,000), America Votes ($275,000), Progress Ohio ($17,400), and Progress Now Nevada Action ($10,000).
Although no longer a mayor, Bloomberg is still expected to throw money into the group to make it a powerful lobbying force in 2014, as Democrats seek to resurrect the gun control issue—a perpetual loser at the national level—as a means of mobilizing their base. (Bloomberg’s philanthropy was examined in the September 2012 Foundation Watch.)
It began with 15 mayors meeting at a summit on April 25, 2006, at Gracie Mansion in New York, and agreeing on an innocuous-sounding Statement of Principles that many National Rifle Association members might feel comfortable signing. MAIG has grown to more than 1,000 mayors in 45 states and has aggressively pushed for stronger gun restrictions on law-abiding citizens. The 1,000 mayors, by the way, represent about 5 percent of America’s 19,000 municipalities (Fox News, July 29, 2013).
When both Bloomberg and Menino exited their respective city halls earlier this year, the group lacked a single authoritative figure to be its spokesman. MAIG merged with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America—a group that started in response to the horrendous December 2012 massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn. The mom’s group claimed to have 130,000 members in 50 states.
“Combining the legal and policy expertise of mayors with the passion and determination of moms will create a force for change that political leaders will not be able to ignore,” said Bloomberg and Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts in a Politico op-ed in December 2013 announcing the merger.
“And by uniting a broad coalition of millions of Americans, we intend to take the fight for common-sense gun safety measures to a new level,” Bloomberg and Watts added. “It’s a fight that can be won, and—unless we are willing accept that 33 Americans will be murdered with guns every day—it’s a fight we must win.”