After some City Council members were caught red-handed using public funds to distribute self-promoting ads to voters--even in election years, which is illegal--the council voted 48-1 in favor of banning the practice. The vote comes on the heels of the release of a report [pdf file] by Citizens Union that showed elected officials spent $1 million in paid advertising singing their own praises during the last five years.
According to The New York Sun, city politicians are no longer allowed to use city funds to pay for ads wishing constituents best holiday wishes or promote events that are not municipally funded. Speaker Christine Quinn said that "These new rule changes send a clear message that we are committed to responsible, open government." Gotham Gazette noted at the time of the report's release that Quinn spent $12,655 in public funds on ads. One loophole still open to Council members is the ability to emblazon their names on trash cans in their districts.
The New York Times first reported on the new proposed rules back in October, after Citizens Union released its report. They were introduced by Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who the Times noted is contemplating a run for mayor. Quinn was relatively thrifty with city funds in comparison to Councilman Michael Nelson, representing Brooklyn. He spent more than $82,000 on city-funded ads during the period that Citizens Union examined. The City Council's press release regarding the new rules on city-funded advertising by members can be viewed here [pdf file].