Friday, January 25, 2019
Mayor's wife is using city hall non-profit fund as quid pro quo to benefit big money donors and her own career
First lady Chirlane McCray has raised between $13 million and $28 million in donations for a City Hall-aligned nonprofit from people and entities with business before her hubby Mayor de Blasio, The Post found.
The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City raised the cash during McCray’s four-year tenure as chairwoman from big Wall Street banks, developers, lobbyists, nonprofits and others. The Post analyzed donations made between April 2014 and September 2017 found in disclosures filed with the city Conflicts of Interest Board, along with data from the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services.
In January 2014 de Blasio got approval from COIB to appoint his wife chair of the Mayor’s Fund. As chairwoman, McCray is the “lead fund-raiser” for the fund, which was created in 1994 under former Mayor Giuliani to promote City Hall’s agenda.
Conflict of interest rules bar civil servants from fundraising on the city’s behalf from people with business before their agencies unless “firewalls” exist between those officials and decisions that could impact the donors.
But because McCray is an unpaid volunteer and not a city employee, the rule doesn’t apply to her — even though the mayor often calls her his “closest confidante” and “No. 1 adviser.”
In fact, in her “unofficial” City Hall role, McCray has a full-time staff of five, oversees the administration’s $850 million mental health program, interviews job candidates, sits in on staff meetings, takes solo trips outside the city billed to taxpayers and advises de Blasio on everything from policy to media strategy. She’s also being positioned as a potential candidate for public office.
As boss of the mayor’s fund, McCray has the freedom to not only fundraise from anyone with business before the city, but discuss the donors or issues and policies impacting them with her husband.
“It’s a perfect example for why we believe the Mayor’s Fund shouldn’t exist, period,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York. “It is subject to at worst abuse and at minimum an appearance of impropriety.”
It also shows that she is an actual, real time "agent of the city".