In a recent development, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has a plan to dip into city funds to the tune of $2 million dollars.
But it’s not for a public project. Instead, Mayor de Blasio is allocating $2 million in city funds (see also: taxpayer dollars) for his personal legal expenses due to landing in court on multiple occasions. (via Politico)
He excused his use of taxpayer money by stating, “A large portion of the bills — around $2 million — relate directly to my public service and decision-making in government.”
He continued: “I have been reluctant to ask taxpayers to shoulder the burden of my compliance with these reviews. But after giving this a great deal of thought, it has become increasingly clear that the most appropriate course of action is to let the City cover the costs for legal work tied to my government service, as it would for any of its employees in a similar situation.”
In fact, de Blasio made plans at the first of the year to establish a fund to cover his legal expenses. This obviously led to a lot of debate over how this could be done without causing a conflict of interest — much like the one he was already being investigated for. Because of the controversy, NYC’s Conflicts of Interest Board stepped in and capped the donation level at $50, thwarting his attempts to use taxpayer money to cover his attorney fees.
De Blasio has stated that he will set up his own fund to cover his outstanding debt, but is still facing pushback from the board, maintaining that there is no difference between the two funds and that their ruling still stands.
“Employers have a legal and moral responsibility to cover the costs of representation when employees are doing their jobs, like we were. It’s true in the private sector and it’s true in government,” de Blasio fired back.
He’s also attempting to lobby for legislation that would change the distinction between the various types of donations so that he can once again use city funds to defend himself against his alleged unethical actions.
De Blasio made the statement that, “While the council’s legislative process would dictate the regulations surrounding these donations, there is no doubt that any fund assisting me will provide full disclosure to the public so that everyone can see who is contributing and how much they are giving.”
But is de Blasio digging himself out of his own mess or is his “corruption cloud” — as the New York Post puts it — getting darker? Not only is de Blasio attempting to obtain public funding for his current legal problems, but he’s also racking up quite a load of debt from the ones he’s been facing up to this point, according to his own admission. It also does not appear that he intends to make these bills public.
The Post probably said it best in their board editorial on the matter: “… how can a mayor up to his eyeballs in corruption probes try to keep such key info secret, especially when he insists he has done nothing wrong?”
Instead of fighting President Trump, which must be why he’s so distracted these days, he should reverse course and refuse to take public money to alleviate his private legal matters.