Mayor Does Not Seem Eager to Discuss Relationship With BerlinRosen Co-Founder

In the wake of the NY1 report Wednesday night about the web of influence at City Hall that a top advisor to the mayor has woven, there are calls for reform, while Mayor Bill de Blasio does not seem eager to discuss his relationship with Jonathan Rosen, who co-founded the public relations firm BerlinRosen. NY1’s Grace Rauh filed the following report.

There was a lot of talk in political circles about NY1's story Wednesday night, which explained the reach of de Blasio's advisor, Jonathan Rosen, both within City Hall and with many businesses and organizations trying to influence public officials. The blurring of lines between the de Blasio administration and his adviser, who also works for long list of private clients, is now getting the attention of an Albany lawmaker, who said he wants to force firms like Rosen's to be more transparent about their work.

State Senator Tony Avella, who chairs the Senate's Ethics Committee, said it is time for public relations firms with close ties to government to be regulated much in the same way lobbyists are. On the heels of a NY1 report detailing the tight relationship between PR consultant Jonathan Rosen and Mayor Bill de Blasio, Avella said he plans to propose legislation that would require disclosure for all firms that have substantial contact with elected officials and outside clients.

"As we work to repair public trust in our elected officials," Avella said, "we must no longer tolerate lobbyists in consultants' clothing."

Rosen co-founded the communications firm BerlinRosen, which advised the mayor during his campaign. Although Rosen is not part of the de Blasio administration, he has continued to advise the mayor and met with him 20 times in 2014. At the same time, Rosen advises real estate companies, labor unions and other advocacy groups, many of whom have business before the city.

He is not a registered lobbyist, which means he does not have to disclose his clients or say how much they have paid him. BerlinRosen has always said that it does not engage in lobbying, but helps its clients with media campaigns and communications strategy.

A spokesman for BerlinRosen declined to comment on Avella's plan to introduce legislation.

NY1 tried to ask the mayor about his relationship with Rosen, but he did not want to stick around.

Rauh: One of your closest advisors, Jonathan Rosen, advises you while -
De Blasio: Are you on topic?


Rauh: Mr. Mayor, will you stay and answer this question?
De Blasio: She is going to talk to you and figure out a way to get you an answer.

A spokesman for the mayor later said, "The only interest that drives the mayor is the public interest. He has always appreciated the input of close friends who share his values."

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