DOI finds de Blasio misused security detail; mayor's office responds
The New York City Department of Investigation released a report Thursday that found New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio misused security detail resources. The investigation found that city spent more than $319,000 for the members of the mayor's security detail to travel on his presidential campaign trips among other personal benefits.
The DOI investigated whether the mayor ordered security detail members to move his daughter, Chiara de Blasio, from her Brooklyn apartment to Gracie Mansion in 2018. It also probed if the mayor ordered security detail to drive his son, Dante de Blasio, to Yale University without the mayor or first lady. Another part of the investigation looked into whether the mayor ordered security detail to transport mayoral staff members or presidential campaign staff without de Blasio present.
The DOI found that while security detail was properly used in some aspects of Chiara de Blasio's move to Grace Mansion, there was inappropriate use of the detail - including the use of an NYPD sprinter van to transport some belongings and at least one security member helping to move a futon in and out of the van. The report found multiple instances of security detail driving Dante de Blasio to Yale as well as around New York City without the mayor or first lady present.
The DOI also found multiple instances of security detail transporting mayoral staffers to locations such as their homes or out on errands for the mayor, as well as security detail transporting guests of the mayor without him present - and at his direction.
The report calculated the city spent $319,794 for the members of the mayor’s security detail to travel on the his presidential campaign trips. De Blasio has not reimbursed the city for these expenses, either personally or through his campaign.
DOI made 13 recommendations as a result of the report:
To the NYPD:
- The NYPD must collect and maintain the records regarding the travel expenses incurred by Mayor de Blasio’s security detail during his Campaign, so as to facilitate reimbursement of those expenses.
- The NYPD should consult with experts on official protection outside of the NYPD to develop and adopt improved practices for standing or long-term security details.
- The NYPD should create a policy concerning out-of-state travel records at the NYPD. Travel records should specify the purpose of the travel, especially for trips that require any reimbursements to the City.
To the Office of the Mayor:
- Electronic devices, including cell phones; and City Hall email addresses, should not be assigned by City Hall to members of the Mayor’s security detail.
- Trainings on document retention obligations should be delivered to all individuals who regularly use electronic devices and emails issued by the Mayor’s Office, whether or not they are formally employed by the Mayor’s Office.
- The Office of the Mayor should develop and provide trainings regarding use and retention of text messages to any City employee to whom it issues City Hall cell phones.
To the COIB:
- The Conflicts of Interest Board should publicly release as guidance any advice issued to elected officials regarding the use of City resources in connection with political activities.
- If the Board’s advice or guidance provides for the reimbursement of expenses to the City, it should specify, at a minimum, a timeline for such reimbursements to the City and the parties responsible for reimbursement.
- DORIS should issue an updated retention schedule to include rules governing text messages, messaging applications, and any communications not conducted via official government accounts nor retained on government servers.
The mayor's office responded Thursday morning saying, "Intelligence and security experts should decide how to keep the mayor and his family safe, not civilian investigators. This unprofessional report purports to do the NYPD’s job for them, but with none of the relevant expertise – and without even interviewing the official who heads intelligence for the City. As a result, we are left with an inaccurate report, based on illegitimate assumptions and a naïve view of the complex security challenges facing elected officials today.”
The DOIE is recommending that the mayor repay the more than $319,000 spent during the 2019 security detail. The city has issued an appeal letter to the Conflicts of Interest Board. The city says the question of who should pay for the NYPD expenses is currently under appeal.