New York Mayor Bill de Blasio misused public resources for his own political and personal benefit - and has not reimbursed the city for security costs related to his presidential campaign, according to the New York Times, citing a city investigation released on Thursday.
Among other things, de Blasio deployed his security detail to move his activist daughter to Gracie Mansion, while the city spent nearly $320,000 for members of his security detail to travel during his presidential campaign trips in 2019.
According to the Times:
The report painted a deeply unflattering portrait of Mr. de Blasio’s reliance on his security detail — behavior that a top investigator said amounted to the mayor having his own personal “concierge service” to shuttle around relatives and staffers.
It found that the use of a police van and personnel to help move Mr. de Blasio’s daughter was “a misuse of N.Y.P.D. resources for a personal benefit,” and that Howard Redmond, the police inspector in charge of the family’s security detail, had “actively obstructed and sought to thwart this investigation.”
At a news conference, Margaret Garnett, the commissioner of the investigation department, said that Mr. Redmond had deleted communications and that he had tried to destroy his cellphone after he was told to surrender it. She said that she had referred Mr. Redmond’s conduct to the Manhattan district attorney’s office for a criminal investigation into obstruction of justice.
De Blaso, who has just three months left in office as he mulls a run for New York governor, has faced multiple investigations into his fundraising practices during his time in office - including a 2017 incident in which prosecutors raised questions but ultimately declined to bring criminal charges.
The mayor pushed back on Thursday, criticizing the findings as "naïve" and blaming advice he had received about using the detail.
"I’m honored to be the mayor of this city, but my first responsibility is as a father and a husband," he said, adding "And so I think of the safety of my family all the time."
Just not on his own dime, apparently.
According to the report, de Blasio's misuse of his security detail during his failed presidential campaign in 2019 ran the city nearly $320,000 - which includes hotels, meals, rental cars and flights for members of the detail - who accompanied de Blasio on multiple campaign stops.
"Government resources should be used for government business," said Betsy Gotbaum, the executive director of Citizens Union, a good-government group, adding "The mayor should reimburse these funds immediately."
The report also cited several occasions where the mayor’s detail was used to pick up his brother from the airport, and to drive him to pick up a Zipcar in Palmyra, N.J. The detail also drove Mr. de Blasio’s brother “to an Alamo rental car location without the mayor present.”
Asked if Mr. de Blasio was using his security detail as “glorified Uber drivers,” Ms. Garnett said there was a culture of treating the officers like they were City Hall staffers and a “concierge service.”
The report made recommendations to prevent the misuse of the mayor’s security detail in the future. One was for the Conflicts of Interest Board to publicly release advice for elected officials about the use of city resources in connection with political activities. -NYT
In addition, de Blasio's security detail was used to drive his son, Dante, between NYC and Yale University in Connecticut - with one detective recalling that it happened "approximately seven or eight times without the mayor or first lady present."
After Dante graduated, he continued to benefit from his father's taxpayer-funded security detail, as well as rides from the police every weekday morning from Gracie Mansion to his workplace in Brooklyn.
De Blasio's office also hit back - citing several examples of threats his children faced, yet failing to explain why that should fall on the shoulders of New York taxpayers.