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Cuomo Gave de Blasio Cuff Links and Copy of His Book

By Jeff Mays | September 23, 2015 8:14am
 Mayor Bill de Blasio was sent hundreds of gifts during his first year in office, including a copy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's political autobiography.
Mayor Bill de Blasio was sent hundreds of gifts during his first year in office, including a copy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's political autobiography.
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NYC Mayor's Office

CITY HALL — Maybe they really are friends.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent Mayor Bill de Blasio a pair of cuff links featuring the New York State seal soon after the mayor was inaugurated in January of 2014.

Nine months later, amid their feud over everything from funding universal pre-K to how to handle the Ebola outbreak, Cuomo sent a copy of his low-performing political autobiography, "All Things Possible."

The items are just two of hundreds of gifts that de Blasio, his wife Chirlane McCray and his children were sent during his first year in office. DNAinfo New York obtained the list through a Freedom of Information Law request.

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Gifts to Mayor Bill de Blasio


"He has the cuff links and the book," said De Blasio spokeswoman Karen Hinton, who added the mayor usually follows the city rule that doesn't let employees keep gifts valued at over $50 and "generally doesn't" even keep gifts valued at under $50.

"Gifts received by the mayor are generally considered gifts to the City of New York and are logged by the Mayor's Office Correspondence Unit," Hinton continued. "We attempt to return some non-perishable gifts valued over $50 to the sender, and some perishable gifts like food are sent to Gracie Mansion to be used for official city events."

The mayor's office declined to discuss which items on the list the mayor may have kept, put out for public display, or disposed of.

The city also declined to make members of the mayor's correspondence unit available for interview.

Here are a few items of note from the list:

► U.S. Olympic gear designed by Ralph Lauren.

► Four pairs of Mack Weldon men's socks.

► A purple Nike polo shirt from de Blasio's alma mater, New York University, where he recently joked that he probably still owed the school "money for all the cheese omelets I ate."

► Cardinal Timothy Dolan sent the mayor a CD of "Ave Maria" by Vittorio Grigolo while jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, sent a book about the first 25 years of jazz at Lincoln Center and a CD titled "The Spiritual Side of Wynton Marsalis."

► The New York Times sent a framed copy of the paper's front page from Nov. 6, 2013, which featured an article on the mayor's election victory.

► Warden-Brooks Ltd., which bills itself as the maker of the original "Wall Street Banker Bag," sent Chiara de Blasio three canvas bags with Gracie Mansion embroidery.

► De Blasio's daughter was also sent a decorative headband with flowers and a bird on it by Florida-based artist Mylene Iwanowsky.

► An art gallery sent a framed picture of de Blasio and his family at the White House with Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.

He also received plenty of books:

► Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin sent a copy of her book "The Bully Pulpit" inscribed to the mayor.

► If de Blasio, who grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, needed advice on how to remain a rabid Red Sox fan as mayor, all he had to do was consult the book "It's Tough to be a Red Sox Fan," sent by author Stanley Harris.

► The mayor received two copies of a book titled "If Mayors Ruled the World" by Benjamin Barber. The first was sent by the author's publishing company and the second, a signed author copy, was sent by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

► Economist Anthony W. Orlando, a public policy research fellow at the University of Southern California, sent de Blasio a copy of his book "Letter to the One Percent." Income inequality is de Blasio's signature issue. "He is fighting an uphill battle. All politicians dealing with this issue are," Orlando said.

► Matthew Iarocci, a public administrator, sent de Blasio a copy of his book "The Art of Negotiation: A Practical Guide for Success."

When de Blasio took office, none of the city's municipal employee unions were under contract with the city. In the 21 months he has been in office, de Blasio has reached agreements with almost 80 percent of unions.

Iarocci's not taking credit.

"I'm sure hundreds of people send him hundreds of books. I hoped that he might send it to a staffer to look over," said Iarocci. "But maybe they read it and benefited."

According to the the Conflicts of Interests Board, city employees and officials are not allowed to keep gifts valued at more than $50 from anyone whom they know, or should know, plans to or wants to do business with the city.

That would apply to companies such as the Empire State Building Management Office which sent de Blasio a gift card to the iconic building. The building receives rental income from the city, according to Checkbook NYC.

City officials are allowed to accept awards, plaques, meals and travel if related to city business and it is not extravagant. For example, a company soliciting business with the city may fly an employee to its headquarters to view its product, but the employee should not fly first class or stay longer than necessary.

City officials are also not supposed to use their position to benefit themselves even if the giver has no business with the city. They must avoid the appearance that the gift was given solely because of their position even if it's valued under $50.

"Like all mayors, Mayor de Blasio receives gifts from many people," said Hinton. "He doesn’t have time to see all of the gifts but he appreciates them."

And what about the cuff links and book from Cuomo?

Hinton: "I don’t know if he wears the cuff links or has read the book."