Rachel Noerdlinger, the embattled chief of staff to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray, will be taking an unpaid leave of absence following her son’s arrest, saying she does not want to be a “distraction.”
Noerdlinger’s 17-year-old son, Khari, was arrested on criminal trespassing charges in Washington Heights. Two of the people arrested with him allegedly were in possession of marijuana but Noredlinger’s son wasn’t, according to NBC News.
Noerdlinger said she will “devote my full attention to Khari, my number one priority.”
Noerdlinger has been under fire for months since her relationship with Hassaun McFarlan became public. McFarlan, a convicted killer and drug trafficker, and Noerdlinger have been dating since 2010 and have reportedly lived together for two years. Noerdlinger has been criticized after reportedly not disclosing on city documents that she lived with McFarlan, who called the police “pigs” in a Facebook post.
McFarlan, who has been arrested at least five times, and Noerdlinger and a minor passenger were stopped by police in New Jersey in 2011 in a car filled with marijuana smoke, according to DNA Info. McFarlan did not have a license at the time.
Noerdlinger also has been criticized for having up to $900 in unpaid parking tickets.
De Blasio and McCray have staunchly supported Noerdlinger, and they issued a statement Monday thanking Noerdlinger for her service. “She has been a great asset to the administration and the people of New York City over the past year, and everyone wishes her all the best during her leave,” the statement said.
At a news conference in Brooklyn for an unrelated event on Monday, de Blasio called the attacks against Noerdlinger and her family “repulsive.” “The notion that somehow in modern society, not just your own actions, but those of your girlfriend or boyfriend, or your own teenage child, somehow, all of this is fair game.”
Al Sharpton, who Noerdlinger served as communications director for his National Action Network, also blasted the media for what he called a smear campaign.