State Appeals Court Rules De Blasio Must Turn Over Emails

May 3, 2018 Last Updated: May 3, 2018

A New York court of appeals ruled on May 1 that Bill de Blasio must turn over emails between him and a principal of a PR firm after the court ruled that the PR firm was not contracted by the city.

The case stems from two freedom of information requests, one by a New York Post reporter and another by an NY1 reporter in 2015.

They sought emails between de Blasio and Jonathan Rosen, the head of PR firm BerlinRosen, and the firm’s employees.

Rosen had been retained by de Blasio’s nonprofit Campaign for One New York (CONY), which was set up in 2013 to further the mayor’s policy initiatives. It closed down in 2016.

Under the freedom of information law, communications between intergovernmental and intragovernmental agencies are excluded from being released to the public to allow for candid discussion.

The mayor’s legal team tried to argue that because Rosen was employed by CONY, he was an “agent of the state,” a term that the New York Law Journal called a “novel argument.”

“This argument is without merit,” the Appellate court said in its judgment. “This attempt expands the agency exemption and closes the door on government transparency.”

It said that because CONY was not a city agency, Rosen and other BerlinRosen employees were not being paid by the city.

In addition to turning over the documents, the appellants were ordered to pay the media companies’ legal fees.

The New York Post said the city’s Law Department declined to say if the mayor’s office would appeal, and BerlinRosen did not respond to a request seeking comment.