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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio won’t say when he’ll repay taxpayers the $320,000 he spent on security services for his failed presidential campaign as he prepares to exit office.
The debt stems from de Blasio’s use of the New York Police Department for security detail on his short-lived campaign, which taxpayers covered, according to a report from the city’s Department of Investigation (DOI). De Blasio also owed hundreds of thousands to a law firm as of Nov. 10 for debts racked up from probes into his fundraising practices.
De Blasio’s office did not respond to a Fox News inquiry asking when he plans to repay the taxpayer money.
Meanwhile, the mayor is dropping money into personal home renovations as he prepares for post-mayoral life, which could include a gubernatorial run.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference held in front of Gracie Mansion on Sept. 20, 2019 in New York City. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
“Mayor de Blasio earned the reputation as one of the worst mayors in New York City history, and this is one of many reasons why,” Citizens Against Government Waste President Tom Schatz told Fox News. “Using the taxpayers’ money, not paying back money that he owed for security for his presidential campaign and simply not taking care of the city.”
NYC taxpayers dished out the cash to cover his security detail on his failed 2019 presidential campaign, even though city resources cannot go towards political endeavors.
De Blasio used Executive Protection Unit (EPU) members, who act as his bodyguards in the city, for protection on the campaign trail. The City reported that he had secretly asked if taxpayers could cover the bill. NYC’s Conflicts of Interest Board denied the mayor’s request.
And in October, NYC’s DOI released a scathing report hitting de Blasio over that setup, among other alleged exploits.
“DOI determined that the City of New York expended $319,794 for the members of Mayor de Blasio’s security detail to travel on the Mayor’s presidential campaign trips, the report states. “Mayor de Blasio has not reimbursed the City for these expenses, either personally or through his campaign.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. (NYC Mayor’s Office)
Additionally, EPU members transported his campaign staffers on campaign trips as they drove him around to events, the investigations department also found.
“Both reflect a use of NYPD resources for political purposes,” the report states. “In addition, DOI learned that, for approximately one year, the security detail has been conducting frequent security checks at houses owned by the Mayor in Brooklyn, where neither he nor his family members currently reside.”
Federal Election Commission records indicate that de Blasio has not used his presidential campaign’s coffers to pay the bill due to a lack of funds.
De Blasio’s committee entered October – when the DOI report was released – with just $4,731 cash in hand and $67,371.90 in debts, campaign finance records show. During the first nine months of the year, the campaign disbursed just $13,481.35 for software and legal and compliance services.
Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio attends the opening of a vaccination center for Broadway workers in Times Square on April 12, 2021 in New York City. (Noam Galai/Getty Images)
The security detail is not the only debt de Blasio has on his plate.
The outgoing mayor owed $300,000 to a law firm as recently as November for bills stemming from a 2017 probe into whether he and his aides provided special favors for donors, Politico reported.
De Blasio said last month he has no plans to pay the debt out of pocket because he doesn’t have the money. Instead, he intends to rely on contributions to get it paid off.
“I hope you know enough about me by now to say I do not have a lot of extra resources kicking around,” de Blasio said in November when asked why he hasn’t pushed any money towards the bill. “I’m not like my predecessor. So I would have to raise the money. But I will, over time, and I will pay it off.”
De Blasio’s initial reliance on contributors hit a snag when the ICOB said he could not accept gifts valued over $50. In 2019, however, the city council passed legislation allowing lawmakers to set up legal defense funds that can accept up to $5,000 per donor, according to the ICOB’s website.
It appears de Blasio has not established such a fund.
In this Aug. 19, 2020, file photo, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to reporters after visiting New Bridges Elementary School in the Brooklyn borough of New York, to observe pandemic-related safety procedures. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
But as the debts remain, de Blasio is dropping money into home renovations, pushing him deeper into debt. The fixer-up project began in October and has attracted multiple complaints, the New York Post reported after reviewing Department of Buildings records.
In June, the Post reported that De Blasio and his wife secured a $615,342 loan on the home. They had previously borrowed $625,000 against the house, which is valued at $1.5 million, the Post found through public records.
De Blasio’s debts sits at $2.5 million, according to the Post. The publication noted that he collects nearly $260,000 annual salary as mayor and took in rental income of between $5,000 and $49,999 from each of his three tenants in 2020, according to his personal financial disclosure forms.
Crain’s reported that some political observers believe de Blasio is eyeing a run for governor in attempts to help pay down debts he’s accrued during his eight years as New York City’s mayor.