New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has failed to repay nearly $ 320,000 in public money used to fund security details that traveled with him during his abortive presidential campaign, a new report said Thursday.
City investigators who examined de Blasio’s use of security details also concluded that the officer in charge of the mayor’s security unit “actively obstructed and sought to thwart” their investigation.
The 47-page New York City Department of Investigations report came more than two years after investigators launched an investigation into allegations that de Blasio’s security information had been misused for personal or political gain. The investigation examined the use of safety resources by children and de Blasio’s staff, as well as whether the town had been blocked with the bill for de Blasio’s use of safety details during his candidacy for the presidency.
The report came as de Blasio, who will step down as mayor at the end of his last term this year, is would have plan a race for the governor.
“There was a culture of treating details as if they were staff” in the mayor’s office, Department of Investigations Commissioner Margaret Garnett told reporters later Thursday morning.
The detail, known as the Executive Protection Unit or EPU, includes agents from the New York Police Department’s intelligence bureau.
The report concludes that the UPR was misused when its members helped the mayor’s daughter Chiara de Blasio pull a futon out of an NYPD sprinter van when she moved to Gracie Mansion from her apartment.
The investigation was “unable to determine whether NYPD resources assisted with the move on direct instruction from Mayor de Blasio,” but said using agents’ help to move furniture was “bad nonetheless. use of NYPD resources for personal benefit, whether one has been requested or simply accepted. “
In many cases, the detail also led de Blasio’s son, Dante de Blasio, to and from Yale University in Connecticut, and it was “standard practice” for security members to lead him into. New York City without the mayor or the first lady present, according to the report.
De Blasio’s two children have refused to be assigned a security detail as adults, and there is no record showing that Dante de Blasio should be a security detail guard, according to the report. “In practice, Dante’s use of NYPD resources was determined by his personal preferences and staff availability, rather than by any risk assessment,” the report concludes.
The investigation also found that the NYPD paid approximately $ 319,794 for security details to travel with de Blasio outside of New York City during his 2019 presidential run, which began in May of the same year and ended about four months later.
“To date, the City has not been reimbursed for these expenses,” says the report.
To determine that number, investigators had to cross-check campaign tapes and NYPD tapes from the same period “sort of room by room,” Garnett said.
In a fiery response, City Hhall accused the guard dogs of being ill-equipped to assess de Blasio’s use of security details.
“Intelligence and security experts should decide how to keep the mayor and his family safe, not civilian investigators. This unprofessional report claims to do the NYPD’s job for them, but without the relevant expertise – and without even questioning the intelligence manager for the City, ”the statement said.
“As a result, we are left with an inaccurate report, based on illegitimate assumptions and a naïve view of the complex security challenges that elected officials face today,” the town hall said.
The mayor’s lawyer sent a letter to the city’s Conflict of Interest Commission regarding the question of who should reimburse campaign expenses.
In interviews with investigators, de Blasio and First Lady Chirlaine McCray “repeatedly stated that they had received no indication of the appropriate or inappropriate use of their security information at any time during the administration. of the mayor, ”the report said.
Instead, they both said they used “common sense” about when to use security details, and the mayor said he asked the police about the UPR. ” because they had to figure out how their people would function, “the report said.
When investigators asked the NYPD for their advice to the mayor on the use of security resources, the NYPD said it had no documents or general written policies to deliver, according to the report.
De Blasio in the interview did not comment on campaign expenses or his “reimbursement obligations”, but said that “there seem to be many different contributions, to some extent in conflict, I think no one ‘was able to fix it squarely, and I mean I can’t say who fixed the problem because I think no one did, “the report says.
“This investigation is a testament to the DOI’s commitment and perseverance in uncovering the facts, regardless of the obstacles, as well as the problems that arise when there are no structured written policies for functions as important as the Mayor’s security service operations, ”Garnett said in a statement.
“Protecting the mayor and his family is serious and important work that must be guided by best practices, formalized procedures and an understanding that security details are not personal assistants in the daily life of a dignitary but provide essential protection, ”she said.
“Additionally, this investigation proved that New York City spent over $ 300,000 in travel expenses just for the mayor’s security details during his presidential run. According to existing COIB guidelines, these expenses must be reimbursed by the mayor, either personally or through his campaign.