City Hall on Thursday released the names of five advisers who aren't on the public payroll, but are being treated like city employees when it comes to their correspondence with the mayor. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
Mayor Bill de Blasio's inner circle at City Hall is bigger than you might expect. In addition to his top government aides, he relies on the help of five outside advisers. They aren't paid by your tax dollars, they are said to have no formal relationship with the city, yet the mayor wants them treated like city employees when it comes to his email exchanges with them.
Emails between government officials and people outside government are supposed to be accessible under open-records law. But in the case of his outside advisers, de Blasio is saying no way.
"The mayor should be holding himself to a higher standard of integrity," said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union. "To create this wall that leads to the shadow government that is not something New Yorkers can see, it gives us a great deal of concern."
The advisers on the mayor's protected list are former campaign aides Jonathan Rosen of the communications firm BerlinRosen, Nicholas Baldick and Bill Hyers of the firm Hilltop Public Solutions, and John Del Cecato of AKPD Message and Media. Patrick Gaspard, a longtime de Blasio friend, is also included in the group. He is the U.S. ambassador to South Africa.
In a statement, the counsel to the mayor, Maya Wiley, said, "As personal advisors to the Mayor, their communications to the Mayor’s Office, along with those of their support staff working at the principal’s direction on those particular matters, are exempt from disclosure when related solely to City business and not on behalf of any client.”
The mayor spoke briefly at a Brooklyn Democratic Party political event Thursday night but did not address the issue.
Some elected officials and government insiders are privately saying they are shocked by the arrangement and by the legal argument the city is making.
Most of the mayor's outside advisers also work for clients who have business before the city, companies like AirBNB and real estate developers like Forest City Ratner.
The email issue was first reported by NY1 earlier this week after the city refused to turn over emails from one of the consultants. NY1 tried to obtain those emails through an open records request but was denied.