Our Legal Bills
By Mayor Bill de Blasio
Members of my administration and I spent much of the last year involved in a multi-agency review of our actions inside and outside of government. While the investigations eventually came to their natural conclusion, as we knew they would, the significant legal bills we accumulated during this process remain.
A large portion of the bills — around $2 million — relate directly to my public service and decision-making in government. I have been reluctant to ask taxpayers to shoulder the burden of my compliance with these reviews. But after giving this a great deal of thought, it has become increasingly clear that the most appropriate course of action is to let the City cover the costs for legal work tied to my government service, as it would for any of its employees in a similar situation.
Legal bills related to some non-governmental work reviewed during the investigation will be paid for with private dollars donated to a legal defense fund. This fund will likely need to raise around $300,000 to satisfy my outstanding debt.
New York City lacks any realistic legal or regulatory framework allowing for the operation of such funds. Members of the City Council have expressed interest in establishing such a framework. I would support those efforts.
While the Council’s legislative process would dictate the regulations surrounding these donations, there is no doubt that any fund assisting me will provide full disclosure to the public so that everyone can see who is contributing and how much they are giving.
Employers have a legal and moral responsibility to cover the costs of representation when employees are doing their jobs, like we were. It’s true in the private sector and it’s true in government.