Cory Booker defends role in online startup; says he’s gone ‘above and beyond’ on transparency

CAMDEN, N.J. — Newark Mayor Cory Booker on Monday defended his role in an Internet video startup company and insisted he’s set the standard for transparency during his campaign to become New Jersey’s next senator.

“I do believe we have met requirements for disclosure and transparency and we’ve gone above and beyond what most of the — all of the candidates in this race have submitted to in terms of disclosure,” Booker told NBC News in a wide-ranging interview the day before the Democratic Senate primary. He’s heavily favored to win.

“I believed in an idea and thought it was great, helped get a business off the ground, which is an experience politicians often don’t have. And a lot of people found that interesting and invested in that idea,” he said.

If Booker prevails as expected Tuesday, he would be an overwhelming favorite to win in the October special general election in this very Democratic state.

But his final days on the primary campaign trail have been dogged by a series of reports about his finances and criticism from his Democratic rivals. The New York Times published a front-page story last Wednesday about his stake in Waywire, the video company he helped raise more than $1 million to start, and the New York Post this week highlighted payments from his law firm that continued after he began serving as mayor.

Booker has developed a national profile for drawing development to long-struggling Newark and using social media to personally engage with constituents. But his involvement with Waywire potentially conflicts with the image he’s tried to cultivate as a house-cleaning, corruption-fighting public servant who uses the latest technology to bring more transparency and accountability to government.

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