Lhota Adviser Charges US Ambassador Broke Law Helping de Blasio

Monday, 13 Jan 2014 12:02 PM

By Courtney Coren

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An ethics complaint has been filed against U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard alleging that his involvement in Bill de Blasio's mayoral campaign is a violation of federal law, which prohibits government employees from partisan political activity.

The complaint was filed by Republican E. O'Brien Murray, a political consultant and adviser to Republican New York City mayoral candidate Joe Lhota. Murray claims Gaspard helped de Blasio's campaign while on the job as ambassador by helping mend the relationship between de Blasio and Democratic primary candidate Bill Thompson following a bitter primary campaign, the New York Post reported Monday.

Gaspard previously worked as President Barack Obama's political director and executive director of the Democratic National Committee.

According to the Post, Murray claims twitter posting from American Teachers Federation President Randi Weingarten on Jan. 1 crediting Gaspard as "the strategist behind the de Blasio win" is evidence of his involvement and influence.

"I filed the complaint because I believe he broke the law," Murray said, according to the Post. "We expect and deserve more from our ambassadors that represent the United States around the world."

Gaspard has not commented on the ethics complaint, but sent out a tweet of his own Jan. 3 saying he is "Proud to be friends with Bill de Blasio for 25 years and I'm thrilled by his win. That's the extent of my NYC gaze."

According to Politico, Murray's complaint also charges that Gaspard has helped de Blasio with recommendations for administration jobs, and has worked behind the scenes to help Melissa Mark-Viverito win the job of City Council speaker.

The State Department maintains that there was not ethics violation, noting that any interest he may have had in the de Blasio campaign was the result of his long-standing friendship with the new mayor. The State Department also noted that Gaspard informally advised Sen. Cory Booker, in his election effort last summer while he was awaiting confirmation by the Senate.

"Ambassador Gaspard has had a remarkable and long record in public service from the labor movement in New York to the Obama White House, so it's no surprise he has many close personal friendships built over decades in his former life, and even less of a surprise that despite busy lives and thousands of miles, good friends keep in touch," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told Politico. "It'd be surprising if that weren't the case."

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