Mayor Bill de Blasio’s top lawyer at City Hall, who has directed the mayor’s defense to a series of fundraising probes, is quitting to oversee the watchdog that investigates police-on-civilian misconduct.
Beginning July 15, Maya Wiley, now the counsel to the mayor, will head the Civilian Complaint Review Board, whose previous chairman was forced out after referring to the NYPD’s largest labor union as “squealing like a stuck pig” and using a derogatory term for a woman’s anatomy.
Appointed in 2014, Wiley will also take a post at the New School as a professor and “senior vice president for social justice,” according to the mayor’s office.
“Maya is a compassionate and brilliant attorney, and she has been a strong asset to Chirlane and me since Day One,” de Blasio said in a news release, referring to his wife, Chirlane McCray.
The administration and the mayor’s inner circle have been buffeted by at least five interlocking investigations by city, state and federal agencies into fundraising methods; Wiley was in charge of formulating the administration’s legal strategy.
“I’m excited to begin as chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an essential city institution that plays a critical role in providing fair, ethical and objective investigations,” she said.
Earlier this year, Wiley made headlines when she defended the decision to shield from public view the mayor’s correspondence with his five close friends, four of whom represent clients with business before the city, on the grounds that the outside advisers are “agents of the city.” The term was criticized by open-government groups.
On Wednesday night, the head of the police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, criticized Wiley’s appointment.
“By appointing a top aide to lead the CCRB, Mayor de Blasio has effectively removed all impartiality from the critical cases involving police officers that come before this so-called ‘independent agency,’ ” Patrick Lynch said in a statement released by the union’s political consultant. “While Ms. Wiley no doubt wanted to leave a City Hall caught in the middle of multiple investigations, this appointment is another example of an administration that puts politically-motivated tactics ahead of fairness, and demonstrates once again its increasingly hostile attitude towards the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our city.”
Richard D. Emery, the board’s prior chairman and a longtime civil rights lawyer, left in April after the female staffer at whom he was accused of using the offensive term sued for discrimination.