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Council members offered private meets with Randy Mastro as Adams pushes to make him top NYC lawyer

Mayor Adams’ office recently started setting up one-on-one meetings between City Council members and Randy Mastro, an ex-federal prosecutor whose expected nomination as the city government’s next top lawyer has drawn intense pushback, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

The effort to broker private sit-downs with Mastro has unnerved some Council members, who question why they should meet with him even though he hasn’t yet been officially nominated by the mayor for the corporation counsel position.

Among the skeptics is Manhattan-Bronx Councilwoman Diana Ayala, a Democrat who serves as the chamber’s deputy speaker. She told the Daily News on Monday she recently rejected an offer from City Hall to meet with Mastro because she doesn’t see a need to speak with him outside of a formal Council nomination hearing.

“Whatever he needs to say can be said at a hearing should one be called,” Ayala said.

Councilwoman Diana Ayala.

Shawn Inglima for New York Daily News

Councilwoman Diana Ayala told the Daily News that she recently rejected an offer from City Hall to meet with Randy Mastro. (Shawn Inglima for New York Daily News)

Mastro and spokespeople for Adams’ office didn’t immediately return request for comment.

Members who have taken Adams’ office up on the offer to meet with Mastro include Manhattan Councilman Keith Powers, a Democrat who chairs the Council’s Rules Committee, multiple sources familiar with the matter told The News.

The corporation counsel is one of the only senior, non-elected positions in city government that requires approval from the Council before a hire can be made. Powers’ committee is tasked with reviewing any corp counsel nomination before it can move to a full Council vote.

Powers declined to comment Monday. Sources familiar with the matter said Mastro pitched himself in his meeting with Powers as a veteran lawyer who can “rebuild” the Law Department and recruit experienced attorneys.

“I don’t know if they’re definitely warming up [to Mastro],” one source said of Council members’ reactions to their meets with him. “But I don’t think it’s hurting him.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams is pictured at City Hall, Blue Room, during his weekly in-person Press Conference on Tuesday, May 07, 2024.

Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News

Eric Adams is pictured at City Hall last week. (Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News)

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Queens), who holds immense sway over the chamber’s agenda, hasn’t met with Mastro, according to her office. It’s unclear if she will.

Mastro, a white-collar crime lawyer known for his aggressive legal tactics, first landed in the headlines last month after it emerged that Adams was pushing to install him as his new corp counsel, a role that comes with the responsibility of overseeing the Law Department and representing the mayor and other city government employees in various legal matters.

Current corp counsel, Sylvia Hinds-Radix, is expected to vacate her post in coming weeks. Sources and published reports have said her departure comes amid debate with top members of Adams’ administration over a number of sensitive legal issues, including the mayor’s representation by the Law Department in a civil lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault. Adams has vehemently denied that claim.

The push for Mastro quickly ran into a roadblock, though, as a large contingent of Democratic Council members vowed to block his nomination. They’ve argued Mastro, who served as a deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration, isn’t the right fit to serve as corp counsel for an overwhelmingly Democratic city, pointing to his lengthy record of fighting for conservative causes in the legal arena, including representing real estate and fossil fuel interests.

In addition to Powers, members Mastro have met with this month include Staten Island Councilwoman Kamillah Hanks, a centrist Democrat, and Brooklyn Councilman Justin Brannan, the Democratic chair of the Council’s powerful Finance Committee, sources said.

Brannan declined to comment, while Hanks wouldn’t say anything beyond confirming she recently met with Mastro.

Another member who was asked to meet with Mastro was Councilman Oswald Feliz, a centrist Democrat representing a section of the Central Bronx, sources confirmed.

Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Adams’ chief adviser at City Hall, tried to broker a meeting between Feliz and Mastro after Feliz posted a tweet on April 29 saying the mayor would be “knowingly wasting your time” by nominating Mastro, given the widespread opposition to him in the Council. Feliz rejected Lewis-Martin’ offer for a meeting with Mastro, though, the sources said.

Feliz declined to comment Monday.

With Michael Gartland 


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