Tue | Jan 23, 2018

US group sues New York Mayor over interactions with Haiti-born former diplomat

Published:Monday | December 26, 2016 | 11:16 AM

A Republican conservative watchdog group in the United States has sued the City of New York and Mayor Bill de Blasio, demanding more information about the mayor’s communications with his long-time Haiti-born friend Patrick Gaspard, who quit earlier this month as US Ambassador to South Africa.

Judicial Watch, Inc. said it filed a formal request for “any and all records of communications” between the two men since June after the mayor said Gaspard was “an agent of the city” along with four other men, who act as de Blasio’s informal kitchen cabinet of advisers.

The New York Daily News said Gaspard’s inclusion in that group “raised eyebrows because ambassadors are federal employees who are not supposed to be engaged in partisan political activities while they are on the government payroll”.

The de Blasio administration for months resisted disclosing any information about the mayor’s interaction with the all-male group, arguing that as “agents of the city,” their communications with City Hall were exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information laws, the Daily News reported.

“The records at issue concern only one person – Ambassador Patrick Gaspard – and cover a discrete time period,” said Judicial Watch Inc. in a statement, asking the courts to direct the mayor’s office to “respond immediately” to its request.

The Daily News said an unidentified Republican aide had complained in 2014 that Gaspard had helped de Blasio get elected mayor in 2013.

In denying the allegations, Gaspard tweeted: “Proud to be friends with Bill de Blasio for 25 years, and I’m thrilled by his win. That’s the extent of my NYC (New York City) gaze.”

Gaspard returned to New York earlier this month to take a newly created top job at the Open Society Foundation, a pro-democracy group, the Daily News said.