The mayor and a few of his aides got here underneath investigation final yr for quite a lot of actions, together with allegations of pay to play and attainable violations of marketing campaign fund-raising guidelines. In March, federal and state prosecutors stated that they had decided not to file criminal charges, though they raised questions concerning the ethics of a few of the mayor’s actions.
A few of the investigations checked out whether or not the mayor had finished favors for donors who made contributions to his political marketing campaign or a nonprofit group he created to help his insurance policies. One other focus of the investigations was whether or not legal guidelines have been damaged throughout a fund-raising push aimed toward electing Democrats to the State Senate in 2014 (Mr. de Blasio cited the State Senate effort for instance of the nongovernmental work for which legal professionals’ charges can be paid from a legal-defense fund.)
Mr. de Blasio had beforehand been emphatic in saying that no metropolis cash would go to pay his authorized charges — though public cash was used to pay personal legal professionals employed by the town for a few of his aides.
“I do need to ask everybody to precisely report the truth that all authorized efforts on my behalf aren’t paid for by the taxpayer, versus different metropolis staff,” he stated at a news conference in February. “That’s the truth, however the backside line is, no public dollars are going into the authorized work on my behalf.”
However in March, the town’s Conflict of Interest Board ruled that donations to a legal-defense fund must be handled as presents to the mayor and can be capped, normally, at $50. That made it extraordinarily troublesome for Mr. de Blasio to boost the tens of millions of dollars wanted to pay all his authorized payments.
At an unrelated new convention on Friday, Mr. de Blasio at first stated he had modified course as a result of he listened to good-government teams that argued that he shouldn’t be handled in a different way from different public staff, whose authorized charges have been paid.
“The extra I considered it, the extra I feel that that does make sense and that’s a superb normal,” he stated.
However he later acknowledged that the restriction on donations to a legal-defense fund was a significant factor, saying, “There’s not the choice for the legal-defense fund that we thought can be there, and I feel that is the best way to proceed.”
He stated that he would really like the Metropolis Council to cross a regulation setting clear guidelines for legal-defense funds for public officers, and that he would wait to arrange a fund.
Dick Dadey, the chief director of Residents Union, one of many good-government teams the mayor referred to, stated he supported the choice to have the town pay for the majority of the mayor’s authorized charges. However he stated the mayor ought to use his personal cash (or marketing campaign cash, if allowed by regulation) to pay for the remaining, to keep away from attainable conflicts of curiosity.
“Typically individuals are on the hook for taking private duty for his or her political actions,” Mr. Dadey stated.
Susan Lerner, government director of Widespread Trigger New York, one other group referred to by Mr. de Blasio, stated the group supported the mayor’s choice and would launch suggestions on the right way to greatest regulate legal-defense funds.
“I feel one needs to be sensible,” she stated. “Because the mayor has identified, he’s not a rich particular person.”