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April 24, 2019

Mayor de Blasio: ‘There is a need in a democratic society’ for legal defense funds for politicians

January 9, 2019
Mayor de Blasio backs letting politicians raise cash for legal fees, (Susan Watts / New York Daily News)

Mayor de Blasio — who has some hefty legal bills to pay — reiterated his support for allowing pols like him to raise money to pay for their legal defense, as the City Council begins considering legislation on the subject.

“I believe there is a need in a democratic society in for this kind of mechanism, a legal defense fund is a very well established idea, it’s existed for decades because everyone has a right to a defense in America,” Hizzoner said Tuesday.


The City Council is set to introduce legislation this week that would make such funds legal — currently, the Conflicts of Interest Board has ruled that accepting more than $50 to pay legal bills would be an illegal gift, unless from very close friends and family. And the city’s strict campaign finance laws do not allow for spending campaign cash on legal woes.

The majority of the mayor’s massive legal bills — $2.6 million wracked up over the course of several federal and local investigations into his campaign fundraising — were paid by the taxpayers, because they were connected to government work. But the mayor owes around $300,000 to attorneys to cover work they did on an investigation into de Blasio’s political fund-raising for a failed effort to flip the State Senate in 2014.

Councilman Steve Levin will introduce a bill establishing legal defense funds this week, Politico New York reported.

“There has to be a way to pay for it, and if you are a public servant, there’s just no way to handle it. There has to be some alternative methodology,” de Blasio said. “And obviously this city has been very rigorous about how it approaches any issues about finances and ethics and I think that what’s begin talked about here is consistent with that approach.”

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