NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio found a new way to hide his communications, and now finds himself in hot water. His actions have raised legal and ethical questions.
He campaigned on the promise of being the most transparent mayor in the history of life, then broke the vow even before he took the oath of office by trying to bar the media from his private swearing in.
It was a road into the rabbit hole of secrecy — confidential emails with so-called “agents of the city” that he fought to keep private, limiting public press conferences to once a week, and so much more.
De Blasio’s latest foray into the world of stealth? Joining the encrypted messaging app Signal, which allows hizzoner to set his messages to simply disappear, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Monday.
“This is part of the lack of transparency of this administration, and it feels like and end run around both the foil laws and the record retention laws,” CBS2 urban affairs expert Mark Peters said.
Peters was referring to the Freedom of Information and other laws that require all city policy makers to save all records relating to how they conduct city business.
“The effect is to make it impossible for the public to see the transparent doings of the officials they’ve elected to run the city,” Peters said.
Alex Camarda, a senior policy adviser for the good government group Reinvent Albany, said the mayor’s use of the app poses legal and ethical issues.
“I don’t see how any elected official could use an encrypted app and then also be in compliance with these laws,” Camarda said. “The only way that would be true would be is if they’re only using the app for non-governmental communication. But we would have no way of knowing that because the communications disappear.”
New Yorkers were disappointed by the news.
“I think it shows that he’s trying to hide something,” one man said.
“I believe in transparency, so I don’t like it,” a woman said.
“I know he shouldn’t be doing that,” another said.
“To hide things from us, something sneaky is going on,” a man said.
“It’s not transparent. Very often he isn’t what he says he is,” another man added.
A spokesman for the mayor insists that City Hall abides by the rules of record retention and use of a secret messaging app doesn’t change that.