Politics & Policy

De Blasio’s Wife Employs Six Undisclosed Taxpayer-Funded Staffers: Report

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, with his wife Chirlane McCray, speaks at a news conference in New York, September 20, 2019. (Jefferson Siegel/Reuters)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, employs at least six staffers whose salaries are paid by taxpayers but are not listed on her official staff roster.

The city’s first lady’s office officially includes eight staffers who all together receive a collective $1.1 million in salaries, The City reported. However, McCray’s staff numbered a total of 15 people for much of this year, but the recent departure of a staff member brought the total down to 14 people.

The unlisted staffers include several who make six-figure salaries, including communications advisor Felicia Lee, whose $140,000 salary is paid by New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and director of policy Grace Choi, who makes $130,000 paid by the city’s Department of Social Services. A social media manager whose salary is paid by the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, as well as two other low-level staffers paid by the mayor’s office, were also not listed on McCray’s official staff roster. A second speechwriter was also put on a different payroll.

Additionally, McCray in February hired a videographer with a $70,000 salary that was paid by the Department of Health. The videographer filmed her “Baking with the First Lady” clip that was posted in April as the pandemic ripped through New York City and residents observed stay at home orders.

McCray, who has said she is considering running for Brooklyn borough president, is a highly involved volunteer for New York City and is not paid by the government. She runs the ThriveNYC program, which works to enhance mental health services for New Yorkers.

The news of McCray’s undisclosed staffers comes as her husband’s administration prepares to lay off 22,000 city workers in October due to the fiscal crisis in the city caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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