One of the top city jail officials busted for misusing a city car — an offense that was shrugged off by the mayor — made thousands of dollars in political donations to Bill de Blasio’s mayoral campaigns.
Jeff Thamkittikasem, 41, drove the department-owned car to a friend’s house on Virginia’s Chesapeake coast for a birthday party last year, according to the Department of Investigation.
Thamkittikasem, who serves as chief of staff to Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte, donated $8,225 to de Blasio’s mayoral campaign in 2013. At that time, he was president of a Washington, D.C.-based firm, Sentinel Strategy and Policy Consulting.
The donation exceeded the legal donor limit, so the campaign had to return $1,000.
On Monday, City Hall defended Thamkittikasem. “Jeff took a substantial pay cut from the private sector in order to take on one of the most challenging responsibilities in city government,” said mayoral spokeswoman Natalie Grybauskas.
He’s stayed politically active since joining the city payroll — donating a total of $2,175 toward de Blasio's re-election, records show.
As for his use of the car, Thamkittikasem told probers he answered phone calls and emails while out of town in 2016 and considered it the equivalent of being at work.
He also used the car to drive to the Washington, D.C., area to deal with a problem with a residence he owns there, he told investigators. And he drove his parents to and from the airport with the car, even though he specifically told Ponte he was off duty during those periods.