De Blasio continues defense of fundraising amid investigations

Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio maintains that his team’s efforts to flip the state Senate into Democrats’ control during the 2014 elections and to fundraise on behalf of his agenda played a pivotal role in his fight against the status quo. But those efforts have concerned state officials, and consequently, have stood between the mayor and some of his outstanding policy goals.

Questions about potential conflicts of interest stalling aspects of his agenda dominated a press conference Wednesday at City Hall. Throughout the nearly two-hour event, the mayor maintained that he had adhered to all laws and rules and had sought support for Democratic state Senate candidates and the Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit promoting his agenda, because it helped him fend off those fighting against his agenda.

Minutes after the mayor called on the state to extend his control over the public school system, he was asked about Republican state Sen. Terrence Murphy’s skepticism about why the Legislature should trust him when there are ongoing investigations into donations he and his allies solicited. The mayor said the Legislature should be making its decision based on how much student achievement had grown, not based on probes that he said wouldn’t find any evidence of wrongdoing.

He was prompted to weigh in on the state revoking its support for the construction of two apartment towers in Brooklyn Bridge Park while citing “potential conflicts of interest” posed by the developer having donated to the Campaign for One New York. De Blasio called the state’s reasoning a “smokescreen,” and said he was baffled officials would not back affordable housing in one of the most exclusive New York City neighborhood

And while attempting to explain why a deed restriction was lifted in Harlem, de Blasio was asked how the public could be certain a developer involved with the site was not in the position to benefit because it had contributed to de Blasio’s bid to put the Senate into Democrats’ hands. The mayor said he and his administration had “nothing to do with” the donation. And he said the decision to lift the deed restriction, which previously required the Harlem lots be reserved for nonprofits providing cultural services, followed procedures that have been in place for 25 years.

The city gave the property to the Dance Theater of Harlem decades ago for a “modest price,” but the land sat vacant for 40 years, the mayor said. As the theater fell into debt, it sought to sell the property, lift the restrictions on it and use the profits to financially right itself. The city consented when the theater paid 25 percent of the current appraised property value, as is standard practice. Still, de Blasio said, he planned to put further deed restriction decisions on hold and would work with the City Council to create a more transparent process that better incorporates communities’ priorities.

Throughout the press conference, de Blasio argued that he and his allies’ fundraising efforts were a necessary part of achieving his agenda – and that history shows other New York politicians relied on similar tactics.

“Let’s be real about what was done in the past,” de Blasio said. “In some instances there were leaders who could just do it right out of their own pocket and provide a huge amount of resources for whatever they believed was right in terms of advertising campaigns or whatever it might be or to organizations that they wanted to curry the favor of. There have been organizations formed by elected officials to pursue their policy goals that would not disclose anything. We know that. This is recent in New York state history.”

De Blasio said his team, in contrast, proactively sought advice about what was appropriate from the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board and followed its guidance at every step.

“So we come along and say, ‘Here’s our core agenda. It revolves around fighting income inequality, things like creating full-day pre-K for all and a very ambitious affordable housing program for half a million people. We’re going to put together the resources to achieve those goals. And those are going to be fights,’” he said. “They were fights.”

Pressed for specifics about the Conflicts of Interest Board’s directive, the mayor said his administration was respecting several ongoing investigations and would release details when it could. His counsel, Maya Wiley, noted that there was a process in place to ensure that city officials, including de Blasio, did not solicit donations from people who had “pending transactions” with the administration, but that did not mean such officials were prevented from requesting donations from everyone who did business with City Hall.

Setting aside specific ethics rules, Wiley and de Blasio said the government officials never strayed from acting in the public’s interest.

“Never do we allow any of those considerations to affect the government policymaking decision,” de Blasio said of the contributions. “In fact, as we will be showing you more and more in the coming weeks, a stunning number of donors and supporters not only did not get things they hoped they would get, they got rejection of things they hoped they would get because we ran a government that was clean and appropriate.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.