Malliotakis threatens to sue city over IDNYC records

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R–Bay Ridge) is threatening to sue the city if it destroys personal information that it collected from undocumented immigrants who have signed up for the city’s identification card program IDNYC.

The cards are available to anyone regardless of immigration status, and obtaining one requires disclosing personal information such as names and addresses, which president-elect Trump could use to ferret out and deport non-citizens.

The records will be destroyed at the end of the year, unless the mayor orders them retained — a precaution baked into the program when it was created in 2015 in case a “Tea Party Republican comes into office,” according to Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Red Hook), who co-sponsored the legislation.

But Malliotakis says the city must keep the records, in case they could aid investigating future terror attacks.

“The idea that we are going to destroy the documents that individuals used to apply for the government-issued ID cards is mind boggling in itself,” said Malliotakis, who did not support the ID program from the start and called the move to destroy records political pandering. “If you read the 9-11 commission report, all but one of the hijackers used some form of government ID, mainly obtained by fraud. If something happens, don’t we want to go back to those documents and see what they provided, where they obtained them from, are they fraudulent? You won’t have any information. It’s very reckless.”

All of the hijackers entered the U.S. legally and nearly all were here legally at the time of the attack.

Reps from the mayor’s office did not respond to Malliotakis’s assertion that the records could help investigate future crimes, but they did accuse her of fear-mongering, because the ID is less helpful to potential terrorists than even a driver’s license.

“We rely on law enforcement professionals from the NYPD to set the bar for security, and IDNYC consistently meets this high standard,” said mayoral spokeswoman Rosemary Boeglin. “Claims that IDNYC is being used by those intending serious harm is reckless fear-mongering — the IDNYC application process is similar to DMVs across the country, highly trained staff use state-of-the-art technology to identify instances of fraud, and IDNYC cannot be used to obtain a driver’s license, board a plane, or cross a border.”

Mayor DeBlasio has not yet decided if he will destroy the records, the spokeswoman said.

For her part, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito publicly invited Malliotakis to sue, according to an Observer article.

Malliotakis called the speaker’s response “arrogant” on Twitter.

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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–Sheepshead Bay) has not ruled out a mayoral bid, though a 2017 run is unlikely.

The lawmaker told WNYC host Brian Lehrer on Nov. 29 that his focus is primarily on gaining ground and power within the House.

“I continue to strongly be inclined to remain in the House of Representatives, we’re in the midst of some leadership discussions right now to try to figure how we can get some of the newer members onto the playing field,” he said on the show. “I’m not prepared to declare any candidacy for mayor right now and it’s not something that I’m thinking about.”

But Jeffries’s senior advisor and director of communications would not totally dismiss a run for the city’s highest office.

“Right now, Rep. Jeffries is focused solely on helping the Democratic Party fight to preserve a better future for all Americans. The mayoral decision will be made at a later date,” said Michael Hardaway in an e-mailed statement.

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Bay Ridge attorney Arthur Aidala wants to run for office, and district attorney is as low as he’d go.

The Bay Ridge attorney registered an exploratory committee with the New York State Board of Elections — Aidala for New York — to raise money before announcing a bid for public office. He’s considering running for Brooklyn’s top prosecutor in 2017, but he hasn’t ruled out the statewide office of attorney general, he said.

“I’m not limiting myself to Brooklyn DA. Wherever I could best serve and be elected, I love being a lawyer, so if the New York State attorney general position opens, I think that’s something I would seriously look at,” said Aidala who is active in the Criminal Bar Association and Brooklyn Bar Association. “And after I put some money in the bank and see how successful I am at fund-raising, and speak with people in the world of politics whose opinions I respect, and then look at the landscape at what’s going on in politics in the entire state of New York, I’ll make whatever decision I think is appropriate at that time.”

Aidala ran for Council in Bay Ridge against Joanne Seminara and Cody McCone in 1997, but he lost in the primary. Prior to his bid, he worked as a senior assistant district attorney and later a senior trial attorney in Kings County.

And term-limited Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) confirmed he is also making moves around the borough to lay the groundwork for his own bid — he was recently in Bedford–Stuyvesant talking with political groups there.

“Being super qualified, of course, I’ve been talking to people who might be interested in the DA’s race, weighing pros and cons and asking people their opinion,” said Gentile.

Gentile touted his 11 years of experience with the Queens District Attorney’s office as one of the reason’s he’d be a great fit for the position.

“I have investigative supervisory experience, grand jury experience for 11 years in Queens, and intense work in the special victims unit — a pretty wide array of qualification to know how the DA’s office is run and how good the DA’s office can be run,” he said.

District Attorney Ken Thompson died from colon cancer in October, and acting DA Eric Gonzalez has not said whether he would run for the seat in 2017.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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