CIVIC CENTER — Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed Monday night to disclose future emails with his controversial group of advisors he dubbed "agents of the city."
The mayor had insisted for months that his correspondence with the advisors, who do not work for the city, did not need to be released for public review.
And in his weekly interview with NY1's Errol Louis on Monday, the mayor insisted that his office had "handled things appropriately" thus far by withholding the emails, but said he would change his policy going forward because "it's obviously become a distraction."
"I think that's the smart way to handle it from this point on," de Blasio said. "To say [to the advisors], 'OK, look, new ground rules now. Before we had ground rules from our counsel's office saying this is confidential so it could be very candid advice, but now, going forward, you know if you advise on a government matter, it's going to be disclosed, so choose your words wisely and act accordingly.'"
However, De Blasio told Louis his new policy will not be retroactive — a lawsuit from NY1 and the New York Post to get the city to turn over past emails is ongoing.
"The past is a different — I believe we acted appropriately and we followed ground rules given by our counsel," the mayor said.
The mayor was speaking specifically about men who his former lawyer Maya Wiley named as "agents of the city" in May: Jonathan Rosen of the public relations firm BerlinRosen, Nicholas Baldick and Bill Hyer of the consulting firm Hilltop Public Solutions, John Del Cecato of communications firm AKPD Message and Media, and Patrick Gaspard, the United States Ambassador to South Africa.
More recently, a sixth man was added to the list: Joshua Gold, a lawyer who ran the mayor's political nonprofit that's now under investigation.
The policy of withholding communications has drawn criticism, as all but Gaspard have clients with business before the city. Hilltop and BerlinRosen were paid more than $2 million from the mayor's now-shuttered, nonprofit Campaign for One New York, to push de Blasio's agenda.
He also said that "non-government" matters, such as anything pertaining to his re-election campaign, would not be disclosed under Freedom of Information Law requests.
"That's the current law and it always has been," de Blasio said. "If I'm talking to my campaign staff about campaign matters, that is not subject to a government FOIL, obviously."