Remember when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio hopped on a jet and took off to Germany right when the city was in mourning over the assassination of yet another police officer? To say that this was a political misstep is the definition of an understatement, but the fallout of that stunt isn’t quite over yet. Some people are raising the awkward question of precisely who paid for that little public relations disaster. As you could probably have guessed without my telling you, it was the taxpayers of New York City. But fear not, citizens! The New York City Conflict of Interests Board gave the mayor the thumbs up for spending the money because it served a “city interest.”
And what might that interest be? Opposing Donald Trump. (New York Post)
The city Conflicts of Interest Board gave Mayor de Blasio the green light for a free trip to Germany because it achieved a “city purpose” — of opposing President Trump, a spokesman said Monday.
An email from the conflicts board’s lawyer, sent at 10 p.m. Friday — more than a day after de Blasio flew to Germany — said the board approved his itinerary based on a rule that allows acceptance of travel-related gifts if “the trip is for a city purpose and therefore could properly be paid for with city funds.”
Asked what city purpose was achieved by de Blasio giving the keynote speech at a G20 protest rally in Hamburg, spokesman Eric Phillips cited Hizzoner’s self-appointed role as a progressive foil to the president.
“He was representing New York City and our values, and providing an alternate American viewpoint to the deeply problematic vision of President Trump,” Phillips said.
Actually, #RESISTing President Trump while promoting his own future political ambitions seems to comprise the vast majority of Bill de Blasio’s “work” these days. And that’s no surprise. A number of outlets, including Politico, have repeatedly noted that de Blasio has privately expressed frustration over not being taken more seriously as a national political figure, something vital to his not-very-secret aspirations for higher office. He’s definitely shown interest in the Governor’s mansion and at least hinted at the possibility of a future presidential run.
In recent months, the mayor has made fundraising stops in Florida, Seattle, Los Angeles and Chicago, and collected donations from some of the party’s most prominent fundraisers, like AOL CEO Timothy Armstrong, early Facebook investor Sean Parker and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.
Boston criminal justice activist and former real estate developer Woody Kaplan was more than happy to donate to de Blasio’s reelection this year because he supports the mayor’s criminal justice proposals, including reducing the use of stop and frisk and his closing the city’s jail at Rikers Island. But Kaplan demurred when asked about the mayor’s viability for higher office.
“There are at least 34 Democrats being speculated publicly about running for president, so I’m staying out of that for the time being,” Kaplan said, adding, “I’ll probably bet on a horse, eventually.”
So will the voters of New York City rebel against being handed the bill for this trip? Don’t count on it. The Mayor has survived a two year investigation into questionable campaign finance activity (which only ended when Preet Bharara was fired) and endless gaffes ranging from murdering the Groundhog Day woodchuck to taking his SUV fleet to the gym in the mornings and is still the odds-on favorite to win another term. And the denizens of liberal New York City are so used to being taxed beyond the point of belief that it’s unlikely they’ll notice a couple of million dollars for Hizzoner to go to Germany to bash Trump. Besides… as the board already determined, denigrating the President of the United States is a valid “city interest” when it comes to New York.
Some days I’m really sorry that the original Snake Plissken movie was fictional.