Comptroller Candidates Spar Over Campaign Finance in Second Debate

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The candidates for New York City Comptroller each took shots at each other over how their campaigns are funded at a debate Monday night.

It was the first in a series of debates administered by the New York City Campaign Finance Board, which runs the city's public matching money program.

Manhattan Borough president Scott Stringer opted to participate in that program, while former Governor Eliot Spitzer entered the race after the deadline to join the program had passed by nearly a month.

Stringer did not mince words when it comes to how his opponent is self-funding his campaign, accusing Spitzer of "trying to destroy one of the best campaign finance systems in the country."

"Quite frankly it's a tribute to the Campaign Finance Board that they have you here since you have violated the integrity of the system," blasted Stringer.

But Spitzer was unapologetic about spending his own money and argued that Stringer was also benefiting from independent expenditures from a coalition of women's advocates, business and labor leaders.

"You say repeatedly I'm trying to buy this election. Scott, I'm just trying to keep up with you," Spitzer shot back. "Keep up with the money you're going to spend and all the millions of dollars that your allies on Wall Street and in the political plutocracy have said they're going to spend."

While Stringer has raised nearly $4 million and will receive $1.4 million in matching funds, his campaign spending is capped at $6 million for the primary.

Since Spitzer is spending his own money, he faces no spending limits.

The debate was sponsored by NY1, NY1 Noticias, Citizens Committee of New York City, Citizens Union, Gothamist, Hispanic Federation, Transportation Alternatives and WNYC. The next comptroller debate is Thursday, August 22.