NEW YORK CITY — Taxpayers will help pay for the "significant legal bills" accumulated by Mayor Bill de Blasio as he fought off investigations into his campaign fundraising — totaling around $2 million, he announced in a blog post Friday morning.
Although he was at first "reluctant" to ask taxpayers to pay for his lawyers, the mayor said it became "increasingly clear that the most appropriate course of action is to let the City cover the costs for legal work tied to my government service, as it would for any of its employees in a similar situation."
Despite private money donated to a legal defense fund, he'll still have to raise about $300,000 more to pay off legal bills related to non-governmental work, he wrote.
There currently isn't any "regulatory framework" associated with raising money for a private fund to pay off his legal bills, although the City Council said it would like to establish one, he noted.
"I would support those efforts," he wrote.
The U.S. Attorney's office, in conjunction with the FBI, had been investigating the mayor's fundraising during his 2013 election campaign, as well as an effort to get Democrats elected to seats upstate during the 2014 state Senate race.
His Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit that steered money from donors into pet projects like his Universal Pre-K initiative, was also under investigation.
In March, officials announced there would not be any charges filed against the mayor or his team, despite evidence their conduct appears to have violated "the intent and spirit of the laws," according to Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance.
Vance sent a letter to the New York State Board of Elections explaining that de Blasio was simply following his lawyer's advice at the time, so prosecutors couldn't pursue criminal charges.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim, who took over for Preet Bharara, said they had difficulty "proving criminal intent in corruption schemes where there is no evidence of personal profit," which would have influenced pressing charges.