New York Post De Blasio aides’ legal bills are costing taxpayers millions by Michael Gartland
The city’s top lawyer predicted Monday that taxpayers will have to shell out “a few million dollars more” for the legal bills of mayoral aides swept up in several corruption probes.
And that’s on top of the $10.5 million already spent on outside lawyers.
Corporation Counsel Zach Carter described the additional legal costs as not “a large magnitude” and said it appears the federal probes are “winding down and concluding.”
“We believe that there will be a few million dollars more expended, but I can’t give you an exact figure,” Carter testified at a City Council budget hearing. “I don’t believe that it will be a large magnitude of expenditures.”
According to records obtained by The Post in January, the city expected to spend a total of $11.6 million — a figure that now seems low.
The feds are investigating Mayor de Blasio and his inner circle for allegedly providing political favors for campaign and other contributions.
Carter testified that the 11 outside law firms brought in to handle the probes are needed because the city Law Department doesn’t specialize in criminal defense and because of “issues of privilege” and conflicts of interest.
“The ongoing investigations are criminal in nature,” he said. “That is a specialized area of practice that requires experience because of the delicacy of the judgments to be made.”
Another reason for retaining outside firms is that employees “often insisted” on “separate counsel,” he added.
Carter testified that “dozens” of city employees were identified as potential witnesses in the probes, but refused to provide an exact number.
But he did say that he doesn’t expect the firing of US Attorney Preet Bharara to interfere with the investigative timeline.
“[His temporary successor Joon Kim] was fully engaged in the supervision of these investigations so I doubt that we’ll lose any time in terms of final evaluation of the case,” he said.