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Mayor's 'Agents of the City' Emails Must Be Released, Judge Rules

By Ben Fractenberg | March 23, 2017 4:36pm
 A Manhattan judge ruled that Mayor Bill de Blasio's office had to release emails with so-called
A Manhattan judge ruled that Mayor Bill de Blasio's office had to release emails with so-called "agents of the city."
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

MANHATTAN — Mayor Bill de Blasio must release emails he had with so-called “agents of the city,” including public-relations magnate Jonathan Rosen, a New York Supreme Court judge has ruled.

The decision came after NY1 and the New York Post filed a lawsuit when their Freedom of Information request made to obtain copies of emails between the mayor and members of Rosen’s PR firm, BerlinRosen, was rejected.

“Clothing informal relationships such as that of Rosen and the Mayor with the inter-agency or intra-agency privilege impermissibly broadens the exception to FOIL, counter to the public interest in transparency in government,” Judge Joan B. Lobis wrote in the ruling dated March 21.

The mayor’s office had argued that his emails to advisers like Rosen were confidential because the firm was guiding de Blasio on city business and not working on behalf of a client.

De Blasio's lawyer, Maya Wiley, said other advisers — including Nicholas Baldick, Bill Hyers, John Del Cecato and Patrick Gaspard — should also be protected.

The mayor's office eventually agreed to "belatedly release an additional approximately 1,500 pages of communications" between Rosen and the mayor limited to discussions involving clients, according to the ruling. 

De Blasio then changed course in December and said emails with such advisers would be released going forward, but that his office still would not release all the emails with Rosen.

The judge eventually disagreed with their interpretation of an "agent of the city."

“Here, the Mayor is seeking to apply the inter-agency or intra-agency deliberative privilege to someone who is not part of the Mayor’s office or that of any other city agency, and who has not been hired by the Mayor but is merely advising him on an informal basis,” Lobis wrote.

The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It was not immediately clear if his office would appeal the ruling.