De Blasio Misused Security Detail for Train-Wreck Presidential Campaign, Investigation Finds
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio misused a city-provided security detail when members of his protection unit were deployed for personal reasons, including to help his daughter move into the mayoral residence and to transport campaign staff during his unsuccessful presidential run, a newly released report found.
The New York City Department of Investigation wrote in a 47-page report made public Thursday that it uncovered “potential violations of the New York City Conflicts of Interest Law, lapses in best practices, corruption vulnerabilities, and inefficient uses of public resources” regarding the mayor’s use of his security detail.
The report estimated that the city spent nearly $320,000 on travel for de Blasio’s detail to accompany him on trips connected to his short-lived presidential campaign, expenses de Blasio has not reimbursed. On these trips, members of his detail “occasionally transported” de Blasio campaign staffers while driving the mayor around. “Both reflect a use of NYPD resources for political purposes,” the report said.
Members of de Blasio’s detail and an NYPD Sprinter van were also present when the mayor’s daughter, Chiara de Blasio, moved out of an apartment and into the mayor’s residence at Gracie Mansion. At least one member of the protection detail helped Chiara by “participating in” moving a futon “into and out of” the van, the report alleged. While the investigators could not determine whether this was done at de Blasio’s “direct instruction,” they said that even if it wasn’t, using NYPD personnel to physically move the furniture was a “misuse of NYPD resources for a personal benefit.”
The mayor’s son, Dante de Blasio, also received special treatment from the detail, which drove him back and forth from New York to Yale University in Connecticut, where he was a student. These trips happened on “numerous occasions” without the mayor or his wife present, the report claimed. Members of the mayor’s detail said it was Inspector Howard Redmond, who led the mayor’s protection unit, who directed them to do this, not de Blasio.
According to the report, Redmond attempted to destroy text message evidence on his phone by giving his phone to the department to be recycled and erased while he upgraded to a new one, but investigators stepped in and recovered the old phone. By trying to have the phone destroyed, Redmond “actively obstructed and sought to thwart this investigation, frustrating DOI’s efforts to learn the full facts regarding these allegations,” the report said.
De Blasio Press Secretary Danielle Filson bashed the report’s validity.
“This unprofessional report purports to do the N.Y.P.D.’s job for them, but with none of the relevant expertise — and without even interviewing the official who heads intelligence for the City,” the mayor’s office said in a statement on Thursday. “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.”