NYC Mayor de Blasio picks new press secretary, Karen Hinton, who has close ties to Cuomo

Associated Press

After a three-month search, Mayor Bill de Blasio has hired a new press secretary — and she has ties to his frequent political rival, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Karen Hinton, a communications veteran who has worked in both the public and private sectors, was appointed to the post Thursday, filling a job that had been vacant since the mayor's first press secretary, Phil Walzak, was promoted in February to senior adviser to the mayor.

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Hinton, 56, worked with de Blasio at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during President Bill Clinton's administration, serving as senior adviser to the HUD secretary, Cuomo. Hinton — who later founded her own firm, Hinton Communications, based in Washington — is married to Howard Glaser, a former Cuomo top aide.

De Blasio, a Democrat, called her a "tremendously talented woman; a very forceful, energetic leader."

"That was a great, great group of people I worked with at HUD, and I thought the world of her," the mayor said. "We remained friends ever since."

The Democratic governor and de Blasio, despite their frequent professions of a decadeslong friendship, have frequently butted heads, clashing over a number of items like charter schools, Metropolitan Transportation Authority funding and the mayor's proposal to pay for universal prekindergarten with a tax on the wealthy.

Hinton, who at one time worked as a reporter, also did communications for Washington's public schools.

"I am honored to join this administration and serve a mayor who works tirelessly to lift up the men, women and families of this great city," Hinton said in a statement.

De Blasio's relationship with the press has been tense at times. Particularly in his first year, he frequently expressed frustration that reporters focused on "sideshows" like his frequent tardiness rather than reporting on his administration's accomplishments.

He also accused the press of "trying to divide" the city during the height of his battles with the police unions last year.

Hinton faced a slight kerfuffle her first day on the job. Hours before news of her appointment spread, she posted a tweet in which she criticized positive train control, a safety measure for trains that has become the subject of debate after this month's fatal Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia. De Blasio supports the measure.

After the tweet was noticed, Hinton deleted her entire Twitter account. She has indicated she will resume tweeting the mayor's agenda. De Blasio defended her actions.

"I think it is normal, when someone is about to enter public service, that they leave their past personal opinions behind because they're about to be part of an administration," he said.