February 14, 2017

Ethics Woes Mount For Embattled de Blasio

New York Democrats can’t stay out of trouble. Yesterday, America Rising highlighted Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ethical lapses, and today it’s embattled New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s turn. De Blasio is under two grand jury investigations, and lawyers aren’t cheap. De Blasio’s attorney fees have led him to solicit donations from his supporters to pay for them:

On Friday, de Blasio outlined a fund-raising effort to get himself out from under the mountain of unpaid debt he’s racked up since hiring defense lawyer Barry Berke in April. De Blasio said he would follow ‘a legal-defense-fund model’ and solicit donations ‘according to a set of rules,’ but was vague on details.”

De Blasio’s arrangement has been condemned by a number of ethics experts. John Kaehny called de Blasio’s plan “a trap of his own making”:

“De Blasio will be walking into ‘a trap of his own making’ if he hits up supporters for cash to fund his defense, said John Kaehny, executive director of the reform group Reinvent Albany.”

While Sarah Steiner, an election lawyer, called it “messy” because it “sets up potential pay-to-play possibilities.” A third expert, David Grandeau, said that de Blasio’s plans to pay for the lawyers handling the investigations into his administration, could itself be a target for another investigation into de Blasio:

“‘Obviously, if you give money to the defense fund, you’re benefiting the mayor, so that would be problematic for those that are lobbyists or their clients,’ Grandeau said. ‘I’m pretty sure the people at JCOPE would consider that to be an illegal gift to the mayor.’”

While Mayor de Blasio deals with his various ethics problems, he’s also proving to be completely tone deaf. De Blasio used most of his State of the City address to speak about what he called the “affordability crisis” in New York City. Yet while de Blasio spoke about affordability, he spent $35,000 to rent out speech venue.

“‘Our city and who we are is threatened by an affordability crisis,’ the mayor said during a speech at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem, which was rented out for the occasion at a cost of $35,000. ‘My message to all New Yorkers tonight is very simple and I hope very clear: This is your city…. you made it what it is. And it’s our job to protect that.’”

Next thing you know, he’ll be referring to himself as “dead broke.”