Mayor de Blasio and his top aides routinely used city email for political activity in July 2015 as he dragged his feet on endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, emails disclosed Friday show.
The emails are between de Blasio himself along with several of his top aides and the staff of AKPD — a political consulting firm that helped get him elected mayor in 2013 and advised his controversial non-profit, Campaign for One New York.
City staff are barred from using city resources or doing work on city time for political campaigns. The rule effectively keeps taxpayers from subsidizing particular candidates.
Responding to a Freedom of Information request, City Hall on Friday released 474 pages of emails from AKPD Message & Media. De Blasio says the head of AKPD is an “agent of the city” whose communications are not subject to public review.
In fact, the emails released were all heavily redacted, with nearly all conversations blacked out. However, they still make clear that de Blasio and his team used City Hall email to openly discuss Clinton’s problems pleasing the left in the summer of 2015.
De Blasio — Clinton’s campaign director when she ran for Senate in 2000 — was then talking up Sen. Bernie Sanders and holding back on endorsing Clinton.
While the text of a July 9, 2015 missive from de Blasio on his City Hall email to AKPD’s John Del CeCato is blacked out, the subject line references a New York Times story headlined, “Hillary Clinton’s Economic Agenda Aims at Party Moving Left.”
Five days later de Blasio appeared on CNN to praise Sanders. He declined to endorse Clinton, urging her to present “a clear road map” on income inequality.
Other City Hall emails reference Clinton rejecting tougher Wall Street rules, while others report on Sanders’ efforts to push Clinton on “her views on banks.” None make reference to de Blasio’s stance on these issues.
One City Hall email from mayoral aide Mahen Gunaratna to AKPD’s Del Cecato and two City Hall press aides has the subject line “GOP.” It cites a report, “Bill de Blasio Refuses to Endorse @Hillary Clinton Again.”
One sent July 14 to mayoral aide Thomas Snyder’s City Hall email and Del CeCato from a CONY staffer, Hayley Prim, provided the GOP presidential candidates’ positions under the subject line, “Rs on Income Inequality – find (sic) to send to Mayor in this form?”
At the time, AKPD had received millions of dollars in fees from CONY, including a $215,000 check that July 13.
De Blasio’s press secretary, Eric Phillips, insisted that all the City Hall emails were strictly city business.
“You’re mischaracterizing the content. These are deliberative conversations concerning policy positions and state and national political issues. Obviously those conversations take place in government. It’s quite clear these emails have nothing to do with campaigning or electoral work,” he said.