A close friend of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has landed a contract to host a music festival on the same day he facilitated thousands in donations into the mayor’s re-election campaign, according to a report from the New York Times.
Harold Ikes, a political counselor who served in President Bill Clinton’s administration, was hired by California-based concert promoter AEG Live, and subsequently paid $150,000 by the company, to work on their behalf to fight for a music festival to be held at New York’s Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
At the same time of the request from AEG, Founders Entertainment, and Madison Square Garden, two other promoters attempted to gain permission to hold similar events. All three were denied permission to hold festivals at the requested venue due to pushback from city officials.
However, on top of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park request, AEG sought permission to hold an event at Randalls Island–which was ultimately given the go-ahead. Madison Square Garden and Founders Entertainment were not approved to hold similar events.
On Jan. 11, the same day the summer event at Randalls Island was approved, Ikes poured $400 into de Blasio’s campaign, the maximum amount allowed from a registered lobbyist. Ikes’s lobbying partner, Janice Enright, gave $400 as well. Ikes’s wife, along with the wife of a partner, additionally contributed $4,950 each to de Blasio’s campaign.
In the days leading up to the announcement, Ikes was found to be an intermediary in facilitating $19,250 in donations into de Blasio's campaign, according to the Times.
An executive at Common Cause in New York said the approved contract given to AEG is the opposite of what the mayor publicly espouses.
"It smacks of prioritizing the interests of the powerful donors over the public interest," Susan Lerner told the Times. "It seems to be in direct contrast to what the mayor advocates for."