Mayor Bill de Blasio released 1,500 heavily redacted emails just before Thanksgiving after being sued by the New York Post and NY1 for not delivering emails between him and five outside agencies, including Jonathan Rosen.
Rosen, a close friend to de Blasio and head of the Berlin Rosen consulting firm, has instructed de Blasio on key affordable housing policies. In addition to advising de Blasio, Rosen also has clients in real estate like Forest City Ratner, resulting in a conflict of interest to affordable housing.
De Blasio was interviewed by NY1 host Errol Louis on Monday in regards to the emails and his relationship with Rosen.
“Obviously Jonathan Rosen is in your innermost circle, he’s attending meetings at the city; he’s invited to major policy meetings,” Louis stated. “But this is someone who has a bunch of private sector clients who has businesses that will be affected commercially by the very decisions made in those meetings. How is that okay?”
“Everything was first discussed with the City Hall lawyers,” de Blasio replied. “All the structures were set up with legal guidance and with an explicit understanding that there we were going to avoid any conflict.”
“His (Rosen’s) advice was absolutely welcome, but there had to be a division in terms of not representing his clients to me and we stuck to that,” de Blasio continued.
Although de Blasio stated that he did not favor one group over the other and asserted his separation from any conflict of interests, Louis continued to press de Blasio.
“But you obviously did (favor Rosen),” Louis said. “There’s at least one meeting about mandatory inclusionary housing, and it’s a bunch of public sector officials and him. He’s the only private sector person in the room. He’s got a bunch of private sector clients—he doesn’t have to name them or ask for anything in particular. He’s in the room setting the policy that’s going to affect all of them.”
“I would not overrate the role of any advisor. They don’t set the policy, I set the policy,” de Blasio refuted.
Louis touched upon a controversial email exchange in de Blasio’s administration, where senior de Blasio aide Peter Ragone asked Campaign for One New York fundraiser Ross Offinger for a list of donors for the mayor’s now defunct no-profit.
“Can we take this off official thread please?” Ragone asked.
Campaign for One New York was started in January as a 501c(4)to advance the mayor’s political agenda—mainly affordable housing and universal pre-K for all.
The non-profit underwent federal investigations earlier this year due to allegations that the mayor might have given favorable actions in return for a company’s donation. A Politico analyses found most organizations that donated were trying to get approval for a project when they contributed.
During the investigations, the mayor disbanded the nonprofit, stating that there was no longer a need for it since the fundraising money was already brought in.