NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A new ethical firestorm is engulfing Mayor de Blasio as questions are being raised about where he’s getting all the money to fund his cross-country presidential campaign trips.
It’s deja vu all over again for “On The Road Bill,” the mail-it-in mayor of New York City who has been galloping all over the country to test the presidential waters with a suspicious campaign cash box that’s raising lots of eyebrows.
“To me, that’s a real no-no,” Betsy Gotbaum of the Citizens Union said.
Gotbaum is questioning how de Blasio is raising money for his “Fairness PAC” – the political action committee that is allowing the mayor to dream about running the country.
“Is it the appearance of something wrong?” CBS2’s Marcia Kramer asked the government watchdog’s executive.
“I think it is something wrong. I think you do not take money from people who are doing business with or who want to do business with the city. I’m shocked,” Gotbaum replied.
The mayor, who has already been the subject of an investigation into an earlier political action committee, is now being asked to explain two new issues.
One is a fundraiser held in Boston on Friday by John Fish of Suffolk Construction.
The company is apparently so keen to expand into New York City that it hired disgraced former NYCHA chair Shola Olatoye, who de Blasio shockingly kept praising even after she was forced out in the agency’s lead paint scandal.
The second issue is the city’s $173 million deal to buy 17 buildings to use for affordable housing. The lawyer for that deal is a donor to de Blasio’s PAC.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer subpoenaed the records because the buildings were first appraised at just $50 million – less than a third of the deal’s final price tag.
“When I feel that things are being done in secret, that we don’t get the data, when you have a huge purchase of $173 million… we use the power of subpoena to get the documents,” Stringer explained.
The mayor started Friday in Boston – for the questionable fundraiser – and then flew to Nevada on his presidential quest.
The mayor insisted everything is on the up and up and that he is following all the fundraising guidelines.
When asked if he was willing to have a company seeking business that needs city approval host a political fundraiser, de Blasio excused his behavior by saying, “I’m a participant in a political world where that is the only way to get the resources to get your message out.”
“The vast majority of candidates out there… this is what we have to do to get our message out. It’s just reality,” de Blasio claimed.
A spokesman for the lawyer involved in the city’s questionable real estate deal insisted he never discussed the details with the mayor.
A spokesman for Suffolk Construction would not talk about the fundraiser with CBS2, saying only that the company was “proud” to be making strides in New York.
Despite all the money flowing in from eyebrow-raising sources, it doesn’t seem to have bought Hizzoner a single vote. A presidential poll by the Des Moines Register last month gave him a zero. He was not named as a first choice for president by a single poll respondent in the swing state of Iowa.
According to a new Quinnipiac poll, nearly 80 percent of New Yorkers also disapprove de Blasio’s farfetched dream to live in the White House.