NYC Mayor de Blasio Ignored Ethics Board Warnings About Fundraising: Report

NYC Mayor de Blasio Ignored Ethics Board Warnings About Fundraising: Report bill de blasio speaks into mic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks on Aug. 16, 2021, in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Thursday, 09 December 2021 09:45 AM

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio repeatedly ignored ethics board warnings not to raise money from donors that have business pending with the city, The New York Times reported.

The mayor's refusal to follow the city's Conflicts of Interest Board came to light Wednesday, when years-old letters were released after the Times defeated the administration in a lengthy court battle.

A 2014 letter from the board to de Blasio stated: "Any fundraising solicitations you make on behalf of a not-for-profit organization must not target any person or firm with a matter pending or about to be pending before any executive branch office or agency," the Times reported.

After de Blasio continued to ask wealthy donors for money for his political nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York, the mayor received another letter from the conflicts board in 2018.

"You not only disregarded the Board's repeated written advice, but created the very appearance of coercion and improper access to you and your staff that the Board's advice sought to help you avoid," the board wrote, the Times said.

"A public servant who engages in solicitations such as these, either directly or through a surrogate, acts in conflict with that public servant’s official duties, in violation of [the] city charter."

The mayor's spokeswoman, Danielle Filson, told the Times in a written statement that "the calls the mayor was making at this time were to support affordable housing legislation and his effort to achieve universal pre-K for every child in New York City, which is now a national model."

"He has consistently acted in good faith and followed the process set out for him," Filson added. "The board closed these cases and determined no enforcement action was necessary."

This is not the first time de Blasio has been accused of unethical behavior.

The Times said de Blasio has been the subject of separate federal, state, and local investigations into his methods to raise money for his nonprofit, and for a separate effort in 2014 to wrest control of the State Senate from the Republicans.

Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against de Blasio, the Times reported, but some of the donors were fined by the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics for violating lobbying laws.

A report in early October said de Blasio refused to reimburse taxpayers for nearly $320,000 spent on police security detail during his failed 2019 presidential run.

Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett released a scathing report that detailed de Blasio's use of "NYPD resources for political purposes," The City said.

The latest controversy regarding fundraising comes as de Blasio approaches the end of his term and plans to run for New York governor. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will become mayor on Jan. 1.