New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio defended his use of the taxpayer-funded NYPD security detail to stump for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
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“It’s a fair question,” de Blasio told WNYC on Thursday. “But the rules are the rules and they have been for decades for New York City mayors.”
Nearly one week ago, de Blasio, whose own short-lived presidential quest failed to get off the ground last year, announced he was endorsing the Vermont senator for the Democratic nomination, citing Sanders’ support of working families.
Since then, the Sanders campaign paid for airfare for de Blasio and two staffers to fly to Nevada to stump for the self-avowed democratic socialist, a spokeswoman told the New York Daily News. An NYPD contingent provided security.
“This is one of the most prominent public positions in America, being the mayor of our largest city,” de Blasio said. “And we live in a world where the security dynamics have gotten more and more challenging. The NYPD decides what type of security I need, I don’t make the decision. The fact is, when the NYPD says you need security, I have to go by that.”
Regardless of whether the mayor is on vacation or campaigning for another office, he’s required to have security at all times, Mark Davies, a Fordham professor and expert on city ethics laws, told the Daily News.
De Blasio is also facing scrutiny about the cost to taxpayers of his security detail during his brief presidential campaign. The city Department of Investigation is gathering documentation of expenses run up by the NYPD Executive Protection Unit during his White House bid, the Daily News reported. The cost of the detail during the five-month campaign likely exceeded $1 million; though the City counted that it was closer to $200,000.