Bill de Blasio: Rachel Noerdlinger, Lis Smith Controversies ‘Very Different’

Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed today that the controversies that surrounded Rachel Noerdlinger and Lis Smith are "very different."

Rachel Noerdlinger with Rev. Al Sharpton and Chirlane McCray. (Photo: NYC Mayor's Office)
Rachel Noerdlinger with Rev. Al Sharpton and Chirlane McCray. (Photo: NYC Mayor’s Office)

Days after Mayor Bill de Blasio said he has “full faith” in a City Hall staffer who is dating a convicted felon, the mayor claimed today that his decision to retain Rachel Noerdlinger did not contradict his past move to reportedly stop a press secretary from joining his administration after newspapers reported she was dating former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

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“They’re very different situations,” Mr. de Blaso told the Observer at an unrelated press conference in the Bronx. “Lis [Smith] worked on my general election campaign. She did a great job. As you know, she’s a prominent consultant and she chose to go back to consulting. This is a very different situation.”

DNAinfo reported last week that Ms. Noerdlinger, the chief of staff to Mr. de Blasio’s wife, is in a long-term relationship with a man who pleaded guilty at 15 to manslaughter for shooting and killing a man over a down jacket. In 2005, Mr. Noerdlinger’s boyfriend, Hassaun McFarlan, pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking charges and was served time in Massachusetts state prison until being released in 2007. And on Facebook, Mr. McFarlan–a vocal opponent of stop-and-frisk–referred to police officers as “pigs.”

Leaving City Hall Friday, Mr. de Blasio defended Ms. Noerdlinger, once a top aide to Rev. Al Sharpton, telling reporters that “we don’t care what someone’s boyfriend says, we care what the public servant is about, as she is very dedicated to working to bring police and community together and that’s what we care about.”

But he struck a very different tone last December, when a couple of newspapers reported that the mayor’s campaign spokeswoman, Lis Smith, had entered into a relationship with Mr. Spitzer, who was embroiled in a prostitution scandal and resigned in 2008. Ms. Smith was reportedly in line to join Mr. de Blasio’s administration–instead, she was told she would not have a job at City Hall.

While Mr. de Blasio asserted today–as he has before–that Ms. Smith, a prominent Democratic consultant, elected to return to the national Democratic fold, the New York Times reported in January that Ms. Smith did not make that decision. Instead, she was forced to after the new mayor sought to avoid controversy.

Ms. Smith now serves as a campaign press secretary for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a possible presidential contender.

Bill de Blasio: Rachel Noerdlinger, Lis Smith Controversies ‘Very Different’