Ethics Violation? Social Media Comes To Bite de Blasio In The Butt

Posted: Aug 03, 2019 9:53 AM
Ethics Violation? Social Media Comes To Bite de Blasio In The Butt

Source: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File

Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio had an ethics complaint filed against him with the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) on Thursday. The complainant, who remains unknown at this time, took issue with de Blasio's 2020 campaign posting a photo taken by the Mayoral Photography Office on his official Instagram account, New York Daily News reported.

The picture shows de Blasio in front of a crowd at the city's 2017 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park and is included in sponsored posts on the social media website.

“The Mayor is using a city paid for photo... In Paid for Sponsored ads on Instagram to fundraise for his Presidential campaign,” the complaint said.

Public officials are not allowed to use “city letterhead, personnel, equipment, resources, or supplies for any non-city purpose," the city's charter states. If an official wants to use any of these things for non-city purposes, the COIB has to approve it.

COIB assistant counsel Chad Gholizadeh told the Daily News public officials can use official city photos as long as they're non-confidential. Public officials can use city photos “or other non-confidential public documents produced by the city for a private purpose so long as that public servant obtains those city photographs or documents through the same process as any member of the public.”

De Blasio's campaign said they're well within their rights to use the photo.

“City photos are public and allowed to be used. Campaigns and political parties are outside organizations. You may not share confidential city information with these organizations. You may, however, share information with a campaign to the same extent and in the same manner that it has been shared with the general public,” de Blasio's national press secretary Jaclyn Rothenberg said. “For example, photographs prepared with city equipment on city time are made available to the general public through the Mayor’s Flickr account, and therefore can be accessed by political campaigns on the same terms as the general public.”

The de Blasio campaign has reportedly used public videos and audio clips of the mayor at public events for ads, including his official campaign launch video in May.