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Possible Pay to Play in Chirlane McCray’s Non-Profit; Gets Donors Doing City Biz



Chirlane McCray, wife of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, has raised between $13 million and $28 million from people and companies with business before the city in donations for a City Hall-aligned non-profit organization.

The New York Post found out about the donations made during McCray’s four-year tenure as head of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City after analyzing data from both the Conflicts of Interest Board and the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services. The Post uncovered that many of the donations came from Wall Street banks, lobbyists, developers, and other non-profit organizations.

Normally, civil servants are not allowed to fundraise on behalf of New York City from entities with business before their agencies except through avenues that mitigated the conflict of interest; however, in this case there is a loophole, because McCray is a volunteer and not a city employee, even though Mayor de Blasio has called her his “number one adviser” and “closest confidante.”

This is not the first donation scandal to hit the de Blasio administration; there had already been allegations of Campaign for One New York, a former political non-profit, dodging federal charges after investigations. The Mayor’s Fund received donations from many of the same entities that donated to Campaign for One New York, according to a source familiar with the organization.

Some of the donors included developer Tishman Speyer, the Real Estate Board of New York, Rudin Management Company, lobbying firm Capalino+Company, and financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, Citi, and JPMorgan. All in all, The Post uncovered the money McCray raised for the Mayor’s Fund totaled between $12.87 million and $27.81 million; amounts listed in the disclosures were given in ranges and not in exact figures.

This has become another reason why, in the minds of some, the Mayor’s Fund should be disbanded. Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York, told The Post, “[The Mayor’s Fund] is subject to at worst abuse and at minimum an appearance of impropriety.” Reinvent Albany senior policy advisor Alex Camarda added, “When real estate and banking interests give hundreds of thousands of dollars to the mayor’s nonprofit chaired by his wife while having business before the city, it looks to the public like an effort to gain access, curry favor, and make an end run around the city’s campaign finance restrictions.”

Others, however, defended the existence of the Mayor’s Fund as an institution to help the city overall. Jane Meyer, a spokeswoman for City Hall, told The Post, “The City’s independent ethics board approved the First Lady’s appointment to a position in which she has helped provide thousands of internships to vulnerable youth and connected countless New Yorkers to mental health resources. Under her leadership, the Fund will continue to be a force for civic good.”

By: David Aaronson

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