New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will have to turn over emails he exchanged with a controversial political consultant, an appeals court unanimously ruled Tuesday.
What are the details?
The court ruled that emails de Blasio exchanged with political consultant Jonathan Rosen are not protected from New York's Freedom of Information Law and need to be made public. De Blasio had argued that emails with Rosen should be exempt from FOIL requests because Rosen was an “agent of the city.”
Rosen perviously ran the nonprofit Campaign for One New York on behalf of de Blasio. That nonprofit was shut down after a federal investigation was opened into its fundraising practices and accusations that the organization accepted political donations from people who would then get face time or political favors from de Blasio.
When he shut down CONY, de Blasio claimed that he did so because it has “accomplished its goals,” according to Politico, and not because of the ongoing investigation.
In April, the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics fined two lobbyists after it had concluded that they had violated the state's Lobbying act when they donated to CONY with the expectation that they would receive favors from the mayor in return.
Rosen currently works for the PR firm BerlinRosen.
What did the court say?
The court's decision stated: “These documents include examples of the mayor and Mr. Rosen discussing issues important to BerlinRosen’s private clients. The documents are the types of communications that the FOIL meant to make available to the public.”
“Respondents’ attempts to withhold these communications run counter to the public’s interest in transparency,” the court continued.
Justice Anil Singh, who was appointed to the appellate court in 2017 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), elaborated on this point, saying, “Based on the substantial body of law ... respondents had no reasonable basis to withhold the documents.”
At an event with the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, shortly after the ruling, de Blasio refused to take any questions from reporters. A spokesperson for de Blasio told WCBS-TV that he was reviewing his options. Because the court ruling was unanimous, it will be difficult for de Blasio to contest.