Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been ordered by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board to reimburse nearly $320,000 in city funds used for his security detail during his 2019 presidential campaign, along with a $155,000 fine. This decision marks the highest penalty and largest repayment ever demanded by the board.
The Conflicts of Interest Board’s decision comes after an investigation revealed that the city incurred $319,794.20 in expenses for de Blasio’s security detail during 31 out-of-state campaign trips. These costs covered airfare, car rentals, lodging, meals, and other incidentals for the mayor and his wife. Prior to his campaign, the board had advised de Blasio that the city could cover salary and overtime for his security detail but warned that funding their travel expenses would constitute a misuse of city resources. De Blasio, however, disregarded this advice.
The Department of Investigation’s 47-page report highlighted de Blasio’s misuse of public resources for political and personal purposes, including using a police van and officers for moving his daughter to Gracie Mansion. Jocelyn Strauber, the investigations commissioner, emphasized that the order from the Conflicts of Interest Board affirmed the department’s findings and held even high-ranking officials accountable for rule violations.
De Blasio’’s campaign was active for no longer than four months before it shut down in 2019. At the time, New Yorkers already held a highly critical view of the standing mayor, and most saw his entrance into the presidential race as a tone-deaf move orchestrated to boost his relevance on the national scale.
De Blasio, who served as mayor from 2014 to 2021, faced numerous ethical inquiries during his tenure, including investigations into his fundraising practices. Recently, his presidential campaign was fined by the Federal Election Commission for accepting improper contributions.
New York’s former mayor has not commented on the board’s order. However, his lawyer, Andrew G. Celli Jr., criticized the decision, arguing it breaks longstanding NYPD policy and violates the Constitution. Celli highlighted the security risks to elected officials, referencing events like the January 6th insurrection and shootings of Congress members, and has filed a lawsuit appealing the ruling.