Can an “ideological soulmate” and “friend” of Bill de Blasio succeed him as mayor?
New York City will soon find out.
Former de Blasio legal counsel and mayoral adviser Maya Wiley is expected to formally kick off her candidacy for mayor later this week.
Her close ties to de Blasio and effusive comments in support of and defense of the mayor will come under hot scrutiny, political sources said.
In one tweet after stepping down as de Blasio’s chief lawyer in 2016, Wiley embraced as a badge of honor being described as “one of the mayor’s ideological soulmates” in a City Limits article.
“Yes. ‘An ideological soulmate’ …..and a friend!,” Wiley said in a tweet agreeing with the description — at the time.
Wiley also has defended the mayor’s practice of trekking to and from his Park Slope gym in Brooklyn to exercise, despite living in Manhattan.
De Blasio supporter-turned-critic Bertha Lewis said Wiley’s record and time as one of de Blasio’s top aides will become campaign fodder.
“If I were her, I wouldn’t want wear that description,” said Lewis, head of the Black Institute.
“De Blasio is going to be an albatross around her neck.”
Wiley, 56, would face off in a crowded Democratic primary for mayor against city Comptroller Scott Stringer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former US Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan — as well as possible contenders Citigroup executive Ray McGuire, former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and former city Veterans Affairs Commissioner Loree Sutton.
Wiley, a Brooklyn resident and lawyer, has worked for civil rights and progressive groups pre-de Blasio. The daughter of civil rights icon George Wiley, she has held leadership posts with the NAACP and George Soros’ Open Society Institute. She also founded the Center for Social Inclusion.
Wiley also served a stint as de Blasio’s chairwoman of the Civilian Complaint Review Board and headed a study group pushing to desegregate the public schools and remove the NYPD from overseeing school security.
“Her handlers are going to try to create a persona for her. Good luck,” said Lewis.
“De Blasio has a record. Wiley also has a record.”
Wiley was involved in crafting the much-criticized policy that exempted de Blasio’s communications with campaign and political consultants from public disclosure by defining them as “agents of the city” and represented him during a fundraising probe by state and federal authorities.
De Blasio was never charged, but Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance found the mayor acted “contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits” involving his shuttered advocacy group, The Campaign For One.
Lewis noted that Wiley oversaw other key issues for de Blasio, including bolstering hiring of minority contractors.
Wiley did not return a voice message seeking comment.
But she sent a letter to supporters Saturday, vowing to help the Big Apple recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s what New Yorkers do in a crisis. We did it after 9/11. We did it after Sandy. And now we must do it again, but better — calling on our better angels,” Wiley said.
“Dignity dies where inequality thrives.”
“We are building upon decades of activism, leadership, and community-based partnerships, and paving a path to prosperity in our city where we banish inequality and recognize that we all have something to offer — whether we have a big bank account or no bank account at all; whether we have a passport or are paperless. This is our city,” she said.
“We must bring people together from every community and corner of our city to craft a bold new vision for New York City centered in partnership, effectiveness, and accountability.
“The movement we are building is one for all of us, and I want to make sure you’re a part of it. I’ll have more to say later next week, but I hope you’ll join the movement for a brighter New York City now!”
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