With Bill de Blasio now leading the mayor’s race and less than two weeks to go before the primary, his top rivals are attacking as hard as they can to try and tear him down.
The negative hit today? Lobbyists.
Following a Daily News report this morning detailing Mr. de Blasio’s series of undisclosed meetings with lobbyists, including the sometimes-controversial real estate developer Extell, Mr. de Blasio’s two main Democratic opponents launched into action.
Former Comptroller Bill Thomson’s campaign scheduled a conference call this morning on the topic, where Brooklyn Councilman Lew Fidler played the role of attack dog. Mr. Fidler, who served with Mr. de Blasio on the City Council, said that Mr. de Blasio’s meetings with lobbyists reminded him of the career politician he knew very well.
“It is so typical of the Bill de Blasio that I know,” said Mr. Fidler. “They were caught red-handed meeting with people like Extell.”
Mr. Fidler went on to say that this lack of transparency from Mr. de Blasio is symptomatic of larger character flaws. “A candidate for elected office, for something as important as the mayor has to have what I like to call the ‘Three C’s,'” Mr. Fidler explained, alleging Mr. de Blasio lacked these qualities. “They have to have the ‘character’ to know the difference between right and wrong, the ‘common sense’ to know good ideas from the bad ideas, and ‘chutzpah’ to get the good ones done.”
Not to be outdone, Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s campaign leveled a similar assault against Mr. de Blasio in a press release earlier today. “Bill de Blasio has shown that he is quite consistent–at talking out of both sides of his mouth,” said her spokesman, Mike Morey. “He rails against real estate and professes transparency–except for when he is raising money from the industry and secretly meeting with its lobbyists.”
In response to Mr. Thompson’s press conference, de Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan sent out a notice to reporters noting that Mr. Thompson was a former lobbyist himself and had taken over $20,000 from Extell’s coffers.
Mr. de Blasio also directly commented on the attack at an unrelated press conference earlier today.
“I … started the first effort by a city elected official to disclose online in real time any lobbying meetings that I undertook. And we defined it very clearly from day one, a meeting in which a lobbyist presented the concerns of their client,” he said. “Not a lunch to talk about the weather or politics or anything else but a meeting where the lobbyist raised their concerns on behalf of their client. Each and every one of those instances we disclosed it.”
Mr. de Blasio then pivoted to hit back: “Now, my opponents have not chosen to make that full disclosure. So we have the most advanced form of disclosure of any city elected official and yet certain folks are trying to cast stones at that as well. It just doesn’t add up.”
Additional reporting by Ross Barkan.