NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor De Blasio is now starring in a new video highlighting his accomplishments in 2016.
As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, many are wondering if the taxpayer-funded video amounts to an ad for the mayor’s 2017 reelection bid.
The 3 1/2-minute video features the mayor smiling as Broadway star James Monroe Iglehart from “Aladdin” and Jenna Ushkowitz from the hit TV show “Glee” sing a Broadway-style song touting de Blasio’s accomplishments.
“In case the folks are unaware, we’ve got some facts we’d like to share. We made more tenant protection in 2016, had two years of rent freeze like we’ve never seen, and always New York, we’re there in every way,” they sing.
The lighthearted video pokes fun at everyone involved. The mayor himself is seen calling the performance “kind of over the top” by phone as Ushkowitz dances and Iglehart shakes a tambourine.
At his final news conference of the year, the mayor responded to criticism that the heavily-produced music video, funded by the city, looks more like a campaign for his 2017 reelection bid.
De Blasio said it is nothing of the sort.
“It’s not an ad. You can say it all day long. It’s not an ad,” de Blasio said. “Everything that we do like that, of course, goes through legal guidance. Obviously, we know during an election year, there’s going to be particular ground rules, and we’ll follow those.”
The mayor said the video is nothing but a way to reach New Yorkers, and refuted multiple times during a question-and-answer session that it was anything else.
“You guys can ask all day long. I think it was a light-hearted attempt to get information out. It was very low-key,” he said. “I just am not reading into it what you’re reading into it. I think it was funny.”
But should taxpayer dollars be used to make such a video? CBS2 asked Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, a nonpartisan government watchdog group.
“This video, a little less than a year before the next election, is an indication that taxpayers are going to be subsidizing the mayor’s re-election campaign,” Fitton said.
CBS2 showed the video to New Yorkers, and many were split on what they think.
“It looked like it is just a clever take on mixing a commercial message with an informational one,” one man said.
Despite 2017 being a campaign year, the mayor said he will continue to put out a videos on a variety of topics – and not just about him.
De Blasio tweeted out the video on Tuesday to his nearly 750,000 followers. It has since been retweeted more than 120 times.