Spike Lee's production company received $219,113 in consulting fees to help produce advertisements for the de Blasio administration's community policing initiative.
“After careful thought I accepted the consultation assignment,” Lee told the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story. “The NYPD came to me knowing I have been critical of them. I think it’s important for open dialogue to make what has been a tough relationship better.”
NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, said he considered Lee for the work because, "You want to reach out to folks. Not just the folks who are supporters pretty consistently but also folks who have certainly been critics in the past."
“They just wanted to add value. They weren’t trying to find ways to make public we were involved. And neither were we," Tucker added.
The fee paid to Lee's company came from the New York City Police Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the NYPD that has come under scrutiny in recent years for acting as an arm of the police department without any real oversight.
In June of 2015, the same year Lee's company accepted the assignment, the Post reported that the foundation had spent more than $2 million on contracts for work related to the NYPD, much of it paid to consultants with ties to then-Commissioner Bill Bratton. One source likened the foundation to "almost a shadow government."
The foundation also picked up the tab for former Commissioner Ray Kelly's membership to the Harvard Club. Corporate donors to the foundation, like Palantir and Motorola, have later received lucrative NYPD contracts.
The community policing ads that Lee's company worked on ran earlier this year.
In 2014, Lee edited footage together of Eric Garner being fatally choked, and his character Radio Raheem, from Do The Right Thing, being fatally choked by the NYPD.