Watchdogs Ask Conflicts of Interest Board to Determine if de Blasio’s Calls to Donors Doing Business With the City Violated Ethics Rules
Concern Over Mayoral Fundraising for Campaign for One New York
Reinvent Albany and NYPIRG sent a letter to the Conflicts of Interest Board today calling on the Board to determine and announce publicly whether Mayor Bill de Blasio violated its guidelines while fundraising for CONY, a nonprofit started by the Mayor advocating for his policy priorities.
The online publication The City reported on April 17th that a New York City Department of Investigations (DOI) report found the Mayor and his staff did not initially follow COIB guidelines that required screening of potential donors to CONY to ensure they did not have a matter or a pending matter before the city’s executive branch. The City also reported the Mayor did not tell donors that their donation would not influence City Hall actions, a disclaimer also required by COIB guidelines. According to The City, until at least April 4, 2014, CONY raised $1.3 million while the Mayor repeatedly violating COIB guidelines. The DOI report, as detailed by The City, echoed the conclusion of the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, which found that the Mayor solicited donations from individuals who sought favors from the city, then made or directed inquiries from those same donors to city agencies.
Our groups believe COIB rightly restricted fundraising activity by the Mayor and his aides related to CONY and should assess penalties as appropriate if the guidelines were violated, as appears to be the case. COIB should make its position known as to whether the Mayor and his aides violated the guidelines in any event, as the matter is already public because of reporting by The City.
COIB in recent years has shown its independence and integrity by holding accountable elected officials, including a former City Council Speaker and borough president, and assessing substantial fines for ethical violations. In that tradition, the Board must preserve its reputation and public confidence by doing its duty in this matter and making known its findings.
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