June 28, 2017- Click here for the actual PDF complaint
June 27, 2017- Press Release: On Wednesday morning at 11:30 a.m., a formal complaint will be filed against Mayor Bill de Blasio and Lower Manhattan City Council Member Margaret Chin with federal prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. The complaint stems from the seizure by security officials of opposing political literature from members of the public at a Town Hall event held last Wednesday that featured de Blasio and Chin.
The formal complaint will be filed by Aaron Foldenauer, an attorney and challenger for Chin’s City Council seat in Lower Manhattan, and who witnessed the NYPD’s seizure of political literature first-hand.
“This is on par with Bridgegate, and the alleged misconduct is punishable under the same federal criminal statutes at issue in Bridgegate,” Foldenauer said.
Foldenauer will be holding a press conference at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday in the Foley Square green space (across from the New York State Supreme Court building) after filing the complaint and will distribute copies of the complaint to news media in attendance.
“At a publicly funded event, the Mayor and Council Member Chin misused government authority to suppress the speech of their political opponents. It is a clear violation of both the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution that de Blasio and Chin would use the police force to confiscate opposing political flyers from members of the public,” Foldenauer said, referring to the rights to free speech and the prohibition against unreasonable search and seizures.
At the Town Hall event last Wednesday, de Blasio’s and Chin’s security detail searched attendees’ bags to confiscate opposing political literature and signs possessed by members of the public.
“de Blasio’s and Council Member Chin’s conspiracy to shut down their political opponents in violation of the U.S. Constitution violates federal criminal law,” Foldenauer said.
In advance of the Town Hall, various candidates and political organizations were campaigning outside and handing out flyers as spectators waited in line and for the doors to open. Accordingly, of the hundreds of members of the public in attendance, most of them had several flyers in their hand or inside a bag.
“It is unquestionable that the vast bulk of the materials distributed by the various groups outside the event were anti-Margaret Chin and anti-de Blasio. It was hugely advantageous for both de Blasio and Chin to have these materials confiscated,” Foldenauer said.
A large police presence provided security for the event, including uniformed NYPD, the Mayor’s security detail, and bomb-sniffing dogs. As attendees entered into an NYPD security tent and metal detectors, attendees were told about the real security threat at hand: That all political literature must be thrown away. The NYPD searched attendees’ bags and confiscated any opposing political literature.
“I understand the occasional need for security to stop the entry of real weapons, like guns and knives,” Foldenauer said. “But in no rational world does a piece of paper constitute any sort of security threat.”
Foldenauer attended the publicly funded Town Hall since his opponent in the race for the City Council seat in Lower Manhattan, embattled incumbent Margaret Chin, invited members of the public to attend and was featured to speak alongside Mayor de Blasio.
Foldenauer continued, “At the security checkpoint, the security detail confiscated several individual flyers that my campaign staffer had received from other organizations in advance of the event. My staffer and I were also forced to give up the flyers we had in our bags about my campaign. Furthermore, I saw many other members of the public being forced to give up individual political flyers in their possession.”
The NYPD’s seizure of political materials has been corroborated by independent reporting by DNA Info, as well as further video and photographic evidence accumulated by Foldenauer.
Once inside the event, four members of Margaret Chin’s staff were handing out Margaret Chin’s own literature—after, of course, attendees were required to throw away all other political literature. “That’s viewpoint discrimination, in violation of the First Amendment,” Foldenauer said. “Not only was the police force improperly used to force attendees to throw away their flyers, but Council Member Margaret Chin was then given free rein to hand out her own literature, paid for by public funds.”
Also inside the Town Hall event, attendees were handed a bottle of water and were told that they were “courtesy of the Mayor,” i.e., paid for by the New York City taxpayer.
“Margaret Chin’s and Mayor de Blasio’s abuse of power is inexcusable,” Foldenauer said. “Little wonder that it’s so difficult to stop the pay-to-play gravy train in City Hall.”
Aaron Foldenauer is an accomplished attorney and practiced at several of the leading law firms in New York City for over a decade. Aaron practiced business and intellectual property litigation and has conducted significant pro bono work in the community and for a number of low-income artists.
Foldenauer has lived in Lower Manhattan for nearly a dozen years. Aaron graduated as the valedictorian of Hampden-Sydney College with a degree in economics. He earned a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and served as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. More information about Aaron and his policies can be found at www.aaronforcitycouncil.com and his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/FoldenauerforNY.