DOI Nominee Says History Shows His Independence
Ask attorney Mark Peters if he would hesitate to break ranks with close friend and political ally Mayor Bill de Blasio as the city's top watchdog, and he will mention David Paterson.
The former governor had appointed Peters to the state's Commission on Public Integrity in 2010. Peters later joined the other commissioners to levy a record fine against Paterson after finding he violated the public officers law by soliciting and receiving free World Series tickets.
Peters pledges to bring that type of political impartiality to City Hall if the City Council confirms his appointment today as commissioner of the Department of Investigation, an agency that probes city employees and contractors for corruption, fraud, waste or unethical conduct.
"Professional prosecutors understand you go where the facts take you, and the mayor understands that. And the mayor and I have been clear with each other on that," Peters, a former prosecutor, said in an interview with the Law Journal.
Peters, 48, is a partner at Edwards Wildman Palmer. In private practice, he represents financial institutions in litigation, investigations and regulatory matters.
But Peters has years of government experience. He served as special deputy insurance superintendent in charge of the New York Liquidation Bureau, and was chief of the public integrity unit and deputy chief of the civil rights bureau in the state Attorney General's Office under Eliot Spitzer. He made an unsuccessful run for Brooklyn district attorney in 2005.
Peters said he first worked with de Blasio when they served on a Brooklyn school board in 1999. Until Jan. 6, he was de Blasio's campaign and transition treasurer, one of the few attorneys serving as a close aide. He also contributed $4,950 to de Blasio's campaign last year and another $2,475 for a possible election runoff, the maximum allowed for each, according to finance records.
His ties to de Blasio caused concern among some City Council members who grilled him at a Jan. 30 public hearing.
"What do I tell my constituents about the appearance of partiality with someone who hasn't even been gone for 30 days from some pretty high-level positions in the de Blasio administration?" Councilman Jumaane Williams said.