While he's in the clear for now when it comes to the two big investigations into his fundraising, Mayor de Blasio still has bills to pay, because it turns out lawyers don't just represent powerful public officials for free. What a world. The mayor announced that he'd raise money for his own legal defense fund instead of using city money to pay his lawyers, but that plan has run into a little snag now. Everyone's favorite social media-savvy city agency, the Conflicts of Interest Board, issued a ruling declaring that any donation to the mayor's legal defense fund that was larger than $50 would be a conflict of interest. Hey Mr. Mayor: Better call Saul!

Yesterday, the Conflicts of Interest Board ruled that "A public servant may not accept a valuable gift, that is, a contribution of $50.00 or more, or a series of contributions (or other gifts) over any twelve-month period worth $50.00 or more, from any person or firm having, or intending to have, business dealings with the City." In addition, the Board found that even if a total stranger just so happened to give a public servant a gift worth more than $50, even if they didn't have business before the city, "the Board will presume that the public servant is being offered contributions only because of his or her City position." The only good news for the mayor is that the board said he could accept as much money as he wanted from family or close friends, provided that they don't have any business before the city.

This of course puts a crimp in fundraising efforts because, from what I understand, lawyers are expensive. The Times points out that one of the legal firms the city used while the mayor's fundraising was investigating cost $850 per hour. According to the News, de Blasio hasn't paid lawyers from Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel for representing him during the investigations.

De Blasio put the best spin he could on the ruling, calling it "an initial view from the board," according to CBS and telling reporters that he would negotiate with the board based on past instances of legal funds for public servants. The mayor also suggested he'd be open to passing a bill changing the limit on donating to legal funds specifically, but City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said she was still looking at the COIB ruling, according to the Times. Also, not that anyone asked my advice, but that seems specifically like the kind of thing that would just cause a whole new round of fundraising investigations.