Mayor de Blasio made a “mockery” out of the state’s Freedom of Information Law by deleting official emails that later surfaced during the ongoing NYPD corruption trial, charges a city councilman who is calling on the city Department of Investigation to probe Hizzoner’s actions.
Oversight and Investigation Committee Chairman Ritchie Torres (D-The Bronx) plans Monday to ask newly named DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett to “inquire into City Hall’s failure to fully disclose communications” between de Blasio and former donor-turned-cooperating witness Jona Rechnitz.
Torres cited two communications from 2014 in which Rechnitz offered de Blasio “prime seating at a Knicks game, a gift the Mayor wisely declined,” and also urged de Blasio to “refuse the resignation” submitted by then-NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks.
Both messages were made public in court papers last month — even though they weren’t among the records grudgingly released in response to The Post’s 2016 FOIL request for “any and all” emails between de Blasio, and his aides, and Rechnitz and fellow donor Jeremy Reichberg.
When asked why, a de Blasio spokeswoman claimed that “City Hall employees are under no requirement to retain every email ever written or received.”
In a letter to Garnett, Torres said that “City Hall seems to be taking the position that it had the right to erase emails whose disclosure FOIL requires upon request.
“The public cannot freely access information that the government can freely destroy,” Torres wrote. “Indeed, the practice of deleting FOILable records, in order to evade public review, makes a mockery of FOIL itself.”
In his letter, Torres said the emails both “contain official city business, not to mention evidence of aggressive influence-peddling, that falls squarely within the scope of FOIL.”
“It took a federal corruption trial to make their existence known to the public,” he added.
The emails were uncovered by lawyer John Meringolo, who’s defending former NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant against federal charges he traded official favors for gifts that included a group trip to Las Vegas with a hooker.
Grant is standing trial with Reichberg, an ex-pal of Rechnitz, who last week wrapped up nine days of testimony as the feds’ key witness against both men.
Mayoral press secretary Eric Phillips declined to comment.