Wall Street Journal

June 29, 2016 7:27 p.m.


De Blasio’s Top Counsel Is Leaving

Maya Wiley will leave July 15 to lead the Civilian Complaint Review Board

By JOSH DAWSEY

Maya Wiley, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s top counsel, is leaving her post next month. PHOTO: SLAVEN VLASIC/GETTY IMAGES

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s top lawyer is leaving City Hall next month amid multiple investigations into the mayor’s administration and fundraising activities, she confirmed Wednesday.

Maya Wiley, counsel to the mayor, is taking a job heading the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent agency that investigates complaints against police officers, and as a senior vice president for social justice at the New School in Manhattan, where she will also teach.

In an interview, Ms. Wiley said she had begun conversations with the New School last fall and regretted leaving the administration during several federal and state investigations.

“It will raise eyebrows, and I regret that,” she said of her departure. “I feel very strongly this administration adhered to the law...and I’m confident there will be a resolution of these investigations on a rolling basis.”

She declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation, citing attorney-client privilege with the mayor’s office. The mayor’s office and some of Mr. de Blasio’s closest allies have received subpoenas as investigators examine whether Mr. de Blasio traded government favors for political donations, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ms. Wiley said she looks forward to leading the police review board after her departure from City Hall July 15.

“Maya Wiley has been a tireless and tenacious advocate for low-income New Yorkers during her time in City Hall, and I’m deeply grateful for her dedicated service as City Hall counsel,” Mr. de Blasio said in a written statement.

Ms. Wiley, a civil-rights attorney who lives in Brooklyn, said she is particularly proud of her work on broadband internet in New York, extending the service to poorer New Yorkers and 21,000 public-housing residents. Ms. Wiley said she is also proud that the administration increased the number of government contracts going to minority- and women-owned businesses.

This year, when defending Mr. de Blasio’s decision to not release emails with five advisers who don’t work for city government, she described them as “agents of the city,” a term that drew considerable criticism from good-government groups and others.

“In retrospect, the term came across in ways I didn’t intend for it to,” she said, adding she regrets using a “technical term.”

Ms. Wiley said Mr. de Blasio had been “decent, accessible, and respectful” to her and that she still considered him a friend.

“There is certainly a perception problem at times,” Ms. Wiley said of the mayor. “This mayor is very hard working and dedicated, and takes very seriously the promises he made during his campaign...There is work that needs to be done on those perceptions.”

A number of top administration officials have resigned but have stayed tied to the administration. Stacey Cumberbatch, formerly commissioner at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, now works for the city’s hospital system. Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, a deputy mayor, left last year but serves as chairwoman of the board of the city hospital system.

Karen Hinton, the mayor’s press secretary, left the administration this month. The administration’s social-media director, Scott Kleinberg, also announced his departure on Facebook this week, saying he was tired of the administration’s “political hacks.” He declined to comment on Wednesday. News of his departure was reported by DNAInfo on Wednesday.

In a statement, the mayor’s office said the administration wished the employee well and that some people aren’t cut out for work at City Hall.

Write to Josh Dawsey at JOSHUA.DAWSEY@dowjones.com