The Real Deal New York

Authorities question Catsimatidis in de Blasio campaign probe

The developer donated $50,000 to the state Senate campaign

May 03, 2016 10:49AM

From left: Mayor Bill de Blasio and John Catsimatidis

From left: Mayor Bill de Blasio and John Catsimatidis

Developer and grocery store mogul John Catsimatidis is now part of an investigation into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign fundraising.

Catsimatidis, CEO of the Red Apple Group, was questioned by authorities last week in relation to the state and federal investigations into the mayor’s fundraising activities in 2013 and 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported. The billionaire donated $50,000 to a state Senate campaign in 2014. Investigators are trying to find out who spoke to Catsimatidis and what he was told about the contribution, the newspaper reported.

The developer has said that he didn’t know where the money was sent. He has not been accused of any wrongdoing. He told the New York Times that he encountered de Blasio at a party, where the mayor asked him to send a donation.

“I never got anything in return,” he told the newspaper. “Later on I found out they sent it to the State Democrats, the Senate. You know how I found out? I found out because someone told me, thank you.”

The mayor is accused of trying to skirt contribution limits and hiding donor identities in an effort to gain Democratic control of the state Senate. Real estate executives were among de Blasio’s biggest campaign donors, but The Real Deal recently discovered that a top executive at WeWork was the mayor’s biggest campaign bundler to date, having bundled $68,750 in donations for de Blasio’s re-election campaign. [WSJ] — Kathryn Brenzel

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