Aide: Mayor wasn't hiding poll-watching payment

By the Associated Press | September 27, 2011 | 12:30 PM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) — A former top aide to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the billionaire didn't seek to hide that he was financing a poll-monitoring operation during the 2009 election.

Bloomberg paid for the effort through a personal donation to the state Independence Party.

Former Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey testified Tuesday at a political operative's theft trial that the poll initiative was meant to benefit many candidates — including Bloomberg.

The operative, John Haggerty, is charged with stealing more than $1 million by getting Bloomberg to pay for a "ballot security" operation that never materialized. Haggerty denies the allegations.

Haggerty's lawyers say the Bloomberg campaign was trying to distance itself from ballot security because some see it as a euphemism for suppressing votes, often from minority voters.

Sheekey called that "hogwash."