NYC mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio speaks with potential voters on July 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Just when you think he’s out, they pull him back in. Charges that New York City mayoral candidate Democrat Bill de Blasio leans commie for supporting the Sandinistas in the 1980s had begun to fade, buried under his fifty-point lead over Republican Joe Lhota. And it probably didn’t hurt that de Blasio, after a bit of red-baiting by Lhota, the New York Post, and other right-wing media, responded by pointing out that Lhota is an acolyte of radical right, Joe McCarthy-friendly Barry Goldwater. This old Cold War hazing had been replaced more recently by rather non-sticky charges of de Blasio’s purported nepotism and debate-dodging. But suddenly the specter of communism and fervent anti-communism is hovering over the race, and in the strangest way.
Today, in a pair of fascinating, deep-dive articles, we learn that de Blasio’s father, Warren Wilhelm, and his mother, Maria de Blasio, were hauled before a McCarthy-era loyalty board in 1950, and though they were cleared, suspicions hounded them, ending Wilhelm’s career as an economist with the Department of Commerce. That much was in The New York Times.
Then we learn, from WNYC public radio, that Wilhelm himself worked for think tanks with CIA ties against the communist scourge.
Until now, all that most of us knew about de Blasio’s father was that he was a war hero who lost his leg in World War II, that his alcoholism caused him to leave the family when his youngest son, Bill, was 8, and, as became public only a few weeks ago, that he committed suicide in 1979. We knew that after she filed for divorce, Maria de Blasio raised her sons as a single mother (Bill took her last name as a young man), but now we’re also learning that she was active in the Newspaper Guild when she worked at Time magazine. From The New York Times:
On July 14, 1950, at 10:15 a.m., the couple was questioned by the Loyalty Board at a federal office building. Had he enlisted in the military with hopes of turning his gun on his superiors? Had she conspired with Communists at Time, as a prominent anti-Communist writer at the magazine, Whittaker Chambers, had alleged? Was it true that they kept recordings of Red Army songs in their home on Q Street?….