Our billionaire mayor is close to piloting his helicopter into the sunset, taking with him the aura of financial independence that he wielded like an invisible arm of the City budget, rewarding and punishing allies and foes to more effectively push his agenda. But money abhors a vacuum, and shady special interests and independent groups have already stepped in to pump $12.7 million into this year's citywide races.

That figure comes from Matt Sollars, a spokesman for the Campaign Finance Board, who told the Times, "It's pretty clear that this is unprecedented. We have never seen groups spending like that."

Those groups include the real estate lobby, which spent $6 to $7 million on candidates to ensure their concerns aren't forgotten after the election.

A group of irony-challenged, independent entities named New York City Is Not For Sale spent $879,000 to run ads against City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, but the Times notes that she could have stopped the bleeding had she just supported an issue crucial to the anti-carriage horse contingency: electric cars to replace the horses.

Scott Levinson, a rep for New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets, which is under the Not For Sale umbrella, told a Quinn aide as much this past winter.

“I was trying to get support for my founders’ main issue, which was the horse carriage issue,” Mr. Levenson said. “Some of our founders would not have continued on the independent expenditure had she signed onto that.”

All she had to do was agree with their position. Is that so hard?

Meanwhile, David Koch and his wife donated $290,000 to a group supporting Republican candidate Joe Lhota, called New Yorkers for Proven Leadership [PDF]. They'll be the ones ensuring that you see plenty of Giuliani's teeth in the coming weeks:

“I met David Koch once. I don’t know him and I have nothing to do with the independent expenditures,” Lhota told the Daily News.

Secret Banks: are they better at governing than billionaire plutocrats? Discuss.