Bill de Blasio’s inner circle isn’t contained by the walls of City Hall.
The New York City mayor’s unofficial cabinet includes about a half-dozen outside political strategists, many of whom he has known for decades and frequently turns to for advice when formulating his agenda or managing a crisis, sometimes double- and triple-checking opinions.
He leans on outside advisers more than other recent mayors, and those relationships have gotten scrutiny from ethics watchdogs for potentially being unregistered lobbying.
John Del Cecato, a political consultant who worked for President Obama and created the ad featuring the mayor’s son Dante that helped swing the 2013 election, accompanied de Blasio on his recent travel to the Midwest, Washington and California. Del Cecato has become the mayor’s “last call” on many issues, particularly in matters of income inequality.
Those consultations come in many forms: late-night emails, Gracie Mansion meetings and, once the weather warms up, calls with the mayor as he paces City Hall Plaza, his old-fashioned flip phone connected to an earpiece as he seeks counsel.
Keeping such a robust outside team poses political risks. For one, it reinforces the belief that de Blasio is too slow in his decision-making. Also, the Campaign for One New York was asked this month by the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics why it has not yet registered as a lobbying group. And BerlinRosen has come under recent media scrutiny for advising the mayor as well as private clients trying to curry favor with City Hall.
A de Blasio spokesman said the mayor would continue to turn to trusted friends to complement his senior City Hall staff.
“An inclusive approach where many different points of view are heard is a central part of the mayor’s leadership style,” Phil Walzak said.