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De Blasio won't repay city for subway rides, out-of-town trips

Mayor Bill de Blasio on June 12, 2014.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on June 12, 2014. Credit: Getty Images / Stephen Lovekin

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday he is complying with New York City Conflicts of Interest Board guidelines when he rides the subway or travels out of town on taxpayers' dime.

He does not plan to reimburse the city for subway travel for government purposes or for personal trips to New England and elsewhere when NYPD protection is necessary.

"The Conflicts of Interest Board is the definitive voice in terms of ethics in this city," de Blasio said at City Hall. "I'm following their guidelines to the letter as previous mayors have."

De Blasio acts and serves as mayor wherever he travels and NYPD security detail is mandated, his spokeswoman said. When he travels outside the city, he is driven by the NYPD, which picks up the tab, she said. Earlier this month, de Blasio went to Massachusetts for a family funeral.

When de Blasio uses the subway for work, traveling, for example, from City Hall to an official meeting, the NYPD may swipe him in through the turnstile or usher him in through the emergency gate, his spokeswoman said.

The mayor's travel at taxpayers' expense was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

A 2009 Conflicts of Interest Board advisory opinion determined there cannot be an "effective restriction" on the personal use of city cars and drivers by officials advised to travel with an NYPD detail. This is because the "need for protection and security remains the same whether the official ventures forth to perform a personal rather than an official task or to attend a private social function rather than a public event."

While the board says city cars and drivers may be used without reimbursement, officials can pay their way if they wish. "Of course, even absent relevant legal obligations, Elected Officials are free to reimburse the City for non-City use of their City vehicles for example, to reimburse with campaign funds for political use."

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who governed on a $1 annual salary, paid for his MetroCard and other travel. The city, meanwhile, footed police protection costs for former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's then-girlfriend and current wife, because the NYPD determined she needed a security detail.

De Blasio Monday reiterated that he covered his lodging and flight costs as well as those of his wife and two children when they traveled to Italy last month for vacation and for visits with Italian government representatives. He traveled with three aides, whose expenses cost about $12,768 to taxpayers.

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