Bill de Blasio, former Mayor of New York City, has been slapped with an unprecedented $475,000 fine by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB). The penalty is the highest ever imposed by the city’s supervisory body and stems from de Blasio’s misuse of government resources during his unsuccessful 2019 presidential campaign.
The COIB issued de Blasio a fine of $155,000 with an additional $320,000 billed to compensate the treasury for the expenses accrued by the NYPD as his security detail during his nationwide campaign.
The decision comes over a year after a Department of Investigation (DOI) report exposed de Blasio’s extensive use of his security detail against ethical guidelines, amounting to the use of governmental resources for political means.
DOI Commissioner Jocelyn Strauber stated that the findings reiterate the DOI’s initial conclusions and underscore the principle that public officials, regardless of rank, will face repercussions for rule-breaking.
De Blasio’s attorney, Andrew G. Celli, Jr., vigorously disputed the fine’s validity and implications for public officials’ safety. He stated, “In a time of unprecedented threats of political violence, the COIB’s reckless and arbitrary ruling threatens the safety and security of our democratically-elected public servants.” He expressed alarm over the ruling, arguing it neglects professional advice, violates constitutional rights, and contradicts NYPD practices.
The 49-page report disclosed that de Blasio utilized his security detail for political activities and other tasks. De Blasio’s 2019 presidential campaign was brief, lasting only four months, and he never achieved more than 2% support in the 2020 Democratic primary polls. In response to the fine, his legal team has lodged a lawsuit in the Manhattan Supreme Court to challenge the penalty.
The fine was issued over a year after de Blasio’s tenure ended. The DOI released its critical investigation results, revealing de Blasio’s use of his security detail for personal reasons, such as running errands and helping his family members, in October 2021. The DOI investigators found no written documentation supporting City Hall’s security assessment claims. Instead, it was found that the security measures were primarily based on de Blasio’s adult children’s personal preferences.
After the report’s release, de Blasio criticized it for perceived “inconsistencies” and “inaccuracies” without providing specific examples. During a radio interview on WNYC, he asserted that the report was flawed and maintained that his actions always prioritized the public interest.