The City Council is expected to end its long-standing practice of allowing members to pay for advertisements with taxpayer dollars following the release of a report on Monday listing the top 10 biggest advertising spenders among the membership.
A government watchdog group, Citizens Union, is scheduled to issue a report showing that a council member of Brooklyn, Michael Nelson, has spent the most on advertisements out of his council budget.
Mr. Nelson, a Democrat, said he spends approximately $25,000 to $30,000 of his roughly $300,000 annual council budget on advertising. Other members said to be in the top 10 include Council Members Leroy Comrie and Eric Gioia, both Democrats of Queens. Speaker Christine Quinn is planning to call for an end to the advertisements after the report comes out, a council source said. A spokesman for Ms. Quinn, James McShane, said: "As we await the Citizens Union report, we continue to work with our members to bring reform, transparency, and accountability to the City Council." Council Member Tony Avella of Queens, who is running for mayor, said he introduced a bill years ago to bar members from using taxpayer dollars to pay for advertisements, but it never won support from Ms. Quinn, who is considered a likely mayoral candidate.
"The speaker is going to make it look like I didn't raise this as an issue, but anyone can follow the fact that I introduced this legislation a few years ago and tried to push it without success," he said. "It is awful that council members use taxpayer dollars for purely promotional advertisements."
Mr. Nelson said the ads are helpful because he can get his name out and let people know he has an office in the district. "It is legal, but I also think it's right," he said. His advertisements range from holiday greetings to congratulatory messages for residents who have won an award, he said.
The executive director of Citizens Union, Richard Dadey, said he would not comment on the report until it is released on Monday.
Mr. Comrie could not immediately say how much he spends on advertising each year, but said his advertisements support the local economy. He added that local newspapers reached out to his office on a regular basis to ask him to buy ads.
"I didn't do anything that was incorrect," he said. "I have tried to be amenable and tried to help the economic vitality of the local papers in my district."