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Emails Show De Blasio's 'Agent of the City' Was Deeply Involved in Policy

By Jeff Mays | November 24, 2016 10:57am | Updated on November 26, 2016 1:25pm
 One of the five men Mayor Bill de Blasio dubbed as an
One of the five men Mayor Bill de Blasio dubbed as an "agent of the city," whose email conversations he tried to keep private, was heavily involved in policy decisions at City Hall, documents released by the city as the result of a Freedom of Information Law Request and lawsuit show.
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

NEW YORK CITY — One of the five men Mayor Bill de Blasio dubbed as an "agent of the city," whose email conversations he tried to keep private, was heavily involved in policy decisions at City Hall, documents released by the city as the result of a Freedom of Information Law Request and lawsuit show.

The 1,500 pages of redacted emails, dumped to the press the night before Thanksgiving, show one of the mayor's closest advisers, Jonathan Rosen of the Berlin Rosen public relations firm, weighing in on everything from the mayor's universal pre-K plans to recommending people for city jobs and trying to get First Lady Chirlane McCray to speak at galas for his clients.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE EMAILS

Rosen was also heavily involved in trying to save the city's failed bid to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Rosen and his firm advised de Blasio on his 2013 run for mayor and are advising him on his re-election campaign. Rosen also helped run de Blasio's political nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York.

► READ MORE: De Blasio: Emails With 'Agents of the City' Should Be Hidden From Public

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is investigating whether donors to the Campaign for One New York received anything in return for their donations.

The nonprofit lies outside of city campaign finance rules and was able to accept unlimited amounts of money from firms and individuals who had business before the city.

Top de Blasio aide Emma Wolfe and the mayor's chief fundraiser, Ross Offinger, have both been issued subpoenas. BerlinRosen has also been subpoenaed.

►READ MORE: Here's What We Know About the Probe Into Mayor Bill de Blasio's Fundraising

De Blasio refused to release emails from Rosen and four others advisers, dubbing them as "agents of the city whose communications with the mayor "are exempt from disclosure when related solely to City business and not on behalf of any client."

Good government groups called the designation nonsense and said the mayor was seeking to block transparency.

NY1 and the New York Post sued the city to release the emails.

Rosen's emails show his influence in City Hall and also how he was deeply involved in city business even as he remained an outside adviser representing clients with business before the city.

►READ MORE: De Blasio Advisers Easily Moved From City Hall to Mayor's Probed Nonprofit

One email shows Offinger targeting real estate and business executives to hit up for support for de Blasio's pre-K push.

In the Jan. 21, 2014 email that Offinger sent to Rosen, First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, Wolfe and former de Blasio aide Peter Rangone, he says that developer Bruce Ratner, Google founder Eric Schmidt were confirmed participants in the effort.

His real estate donor wish list contained the name of DUMBO developer Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management who eventually gave $100,000 to the Campaign for One New York. The list also included hedge fund managers Offinger planned to target and ended with the line: "More to come."

Rangone suggested the email was not appropriate, writing: "Can we take this off official thread please."

On Jan. 29. Rosen inquired whether de Blasio had yet connected with Walentas on an email to Wolfe with the subject line: "Jed Walentas cell # per BdB email earlier about wanting to call him."

Rosen also stepped in to help with public relations jams.

In another exchange on Feb. 22, 2014 with Wolfe, she inquires about whether to have a reporter looking to do an article about "our screw-ups in the first month" speak to now-disgraced speaker Sheldon Silver.

Rosen says that Silver would need strong talking points to do so.

"A little worried that he will unintentionally go off message," Rosen wrote "He is somewhat constitutionally unable not to screw up that kind of thing."

Rosen was also heavily involved in the failed effort for New York to secure the Democratic National Convention.

►READ MORE:  Why Brooklyn Lost the Democratic National Convention to Philadelphia

He orchestrated efforts to push back against the idea that Silver's corruption indictment was hurting the city's bid.

Rosen's connection to City Hall was well known.

BerlinRosen Executive Vice President Ben Wyskida sent Rosen an email Jan. 28, 2014 from someone expressing interest in a job as the director of community partnerships and outreach for the Department of Youth and Community Development.

The individual, whose name is redacted, was "super interested" in the job but had it on "good authority that unless a candidate is routed through the Mayor's Office, s/he is beyond a longshot for consideration."

The candidate asked for her resume to be passed along, saying it was OK if it wasn't because "everyone has a limited number of jelly beans to pass around right now."

Rosen passed along the candidates' message to City Hall.