How de Blasio’s nursing home scandal compares to Watergate

By Michael Gartland and Bruce Golding July 27, 2016 | 10:50pm

Mayor de Blasio made a major mistake, political experts said Wednesday, by invoking the infamous cover-up of the break-in at the Democratic headquarters at the Watergate hotel on June 17, 1972 — a criminal enterprise that toppled President Richard Nixon — in trying to dismiss the scandal over his administration’s handling of the Rivington House AIDS facility sale to a private developer.

“Trying to make jokes about what is daily becoming a more serious scandal in front of a national audience is not the wisest move,” Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf said, adding, “it just appears that things are out of control.” and noted that the last two mayors who got overtaken by events — Abe Beame and David Dinkins, de Blaiso’s political mentor — both got ousted by the voters.

Republican consultant Evan Siegried, author of upcoming campaign how-to book “GOP GPS,” said he was shocked by Hizzoner’s cavalier sarcasm. “It’s amazing that he finds it amusing and can mock this investigation while quality of life is on the decline, street homelessness is on the rise and New Yorkers don’t believe the city is better off than when he took office three years ago,” Siegfried said.

Here’s a look at how all the mayor’s ‘Men’ stack up against Nixon’s:

Man in charge

Richard Nixon, 37th president. Only US president to quit the job (Aug. 9, 1974), which he did to avoid impeachment over the Watergate scandal. Later received a full pardon from successor, Gerald Ford. Tag line: “I am not a crook.” Died in 1994.

Bill de Blasio, 109th New York City mayor. Facing several corruption investigations by US Attorney Preet Bharara and other authorities over his fund-raising operations and suspected “pay to play” practices. Tag line: “We are very, very careful about doing things in a legal and appropriate manner.”

Legal eagle

John Mitchell, attorney general. Former Nixon law partner who resigned from the Justice Department to run the Committee to Re-Elect the President. Imprisoned for 19 months for approving the Watergate break-in and payoffs to keep it quiet. Died in 1988.

Zachary Carter, corporation counsel. Accused of stonewalling a Department of Investigation probe into the Rivington House deal and of turning over records only after being threatened with a DOI lawsuit.

Right-hand man

H.R. “Bob” Halderman, White House chief of staff. Fearsome former ad exec-turned-White House gatekeeper who once boasted that he was “the president’s son-of-a-bitch.” Imprisoned for 18 months for conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Died in 1993.

Anthony Shorris, first deputy mayor. De Blasio’s second-in-command. Leaked memos revealed that Shorris knew about the lifting of the Rivington House deed restriction in May 2015, despite City Hall claims that officials didn’t find out until the building was sold in February.


John Ehrlichman, president’s assistant for domestic affairs. Oversaw the “plumbers” who broke into DNC office at the Watergate. Also approved burglary of the office of “Pentagon Papers” leaker Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. Got 18-month prison term. Died in 1999.

Emma Wolfe, director of intergovernmental affairs. Former student activist and political organizer who was de Blasio’s chief of staff when he was public advocate and helped run his campaign for mayor. Slapped with subpoenas tied to the mayor’s fund-raising operation.

Bag man

G. Gordon Liddy, general counsel to CREEP. Ex-FBI agent-turned-political dirty trickster who paid the gang of “plumbers” and conspired in the Ellsberg case. Served about 4 ¹/₂ years in the slammer.

Ross Offinger, ex-finance director of New Yorkers for de Blasio and treasurer of Hizzoner’s since-shuttered Campaign for One New York, at the center of his probe. Subpoenaed over de Blasio’s fund-raising operations, including an alleged scheme to evade contribution limits in a failed bid to have Democrats seize control of the state Senate.


John Dean, White House counsel. Testified before a Senate committee in 1973 that he had warned Nixon the Watergate cover-up was a “cancer on the presidency” three months earlier. Spent four months in prison.

Mark Peters, city Dept. of Investigation commissioner. Named the city’s official corruption watchdog after serving as de Blasio’s campaign treasurer. Recused himself from corruption probes involving the mayor to avoid a conflict of interest, but authorized a suit against the Law Department if it failed to assist in the Rivington House probe.

Michael Benjamin