For several weeks, New York news has been full of Rachel Noerdlinger, First Lady Chirlane McCray’s chief of staff, after DNAInfo reported on September 25 that she’s in a relationship with Hassaun McFarlan, 36, who has a lengthy criminal record. McFarlan spent time in prison when he was 15 years old after being convicted of manslaughter for killing 18-year-old Kenneth Carter; more recently, the website reported, he was arrested in Edgewater, New Jersey for eluding a police officer after a car accident. He was ultimately convicted of disorderly conduct.
The New York Times , citing anonymous sources, reported last night that the city Department of Investigation has opened an inquiry into Noerdlinger. Although the mayor’s office has refused to confirm that, earlier this week, we saw Noerdlinger heading to the Department of Investigation, which is headquartered in the same building as the Village Voice.
Besides McFarlan’s criminal record, Noerdlinger is taking heat for things that both he and her 17-year-old son Khari posted on social media , criticizing the police and calling them “pigs.”
The city’s largest police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, has never been all that fond of Noerdlinger, who previously worked as a spokesperson for Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, which they also don’t like much. After the first DNAInfo story broke, PBA president Pat Lynch immediately issued a statement calling for Noerdlinger to be fired, pointing out that she attends high-level NYPD briefings. He wrote, “The safety and security of our police officers and the public is far too important to risk with someone who is so closely associated with a known convicted criminal with such hateful opinions. She should not be in that position.”
Noerdlinger’s boyfriend, of course, doesn’t come to work with her, and nor does her 17-year-old son. Their opinions and even the stupidest of their actions aren’t necessarily relevant to whether or not Noerdlinger deserves to work in the mayor’s administration. But the Department of Investigation undertakes a lengthy background check before any senior city official is hired, and the Times report, as well as near-simultaneous stories in DNAInfo and the New York Post, reveal that Noerdlinger didn’t disclose on her background check forms that she lives with McFarlan in New Jersey. The DOI warns on those forms that omitting information can be grounds for firing or even criminal prosecution.
The Voice saw Noerdlinger on Wednesday afternoon around 1 p.m. at 80 Maiden Lane, where our headquarters are and where the DOI’s offices are also located. The Voice‘s offices and the DOI are located on the same side of the building, and we ride the same elevators up to work each morning. (To their credit, they’re very good about not letting us eavesdrop on their conversations, although we try every single day.) Noerdlinger, accompanied by several other people, was entering the elevators on that side. There are no other city agencies on that side of the building besides the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District.
The mayor’s press office as well as a spokesperson for McCray haven’t responded to several requests for comment from the Voice . Nor did Noerdlinger. Yesterday, a day after we saw her in our building, the mayor’s chief spokesperson Phil Walzak told the Times, “The administration knows of no action being taken against Rachel, but does know that she comes to work every day committed to serving the people of our city across the five boroughs on the critical issues that matter.”