Developer Don Peebles, who has criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio and has considered challenging him in 2017, told local reporters that the mayor personally asked him for a $20,000 donation to a nonprofit promoting the mayor’s universal pre-kindergarten initiative – and that the fact Peebles had business pending city approval made it hard “to tell the mayor no.”
Peebles said de Blasio called him in March 2014 asking “for a specific dollar amount” contribution to what is now called the Campaign for One New York. At the time, Peebles’ eponymous development firm was finalizing a bid for the Long Island College Hospital site in Cobble Hill, which eventually went to Fortis Property Group.
“It’s hard for a businessperson who has business interests in New York City to tell the mayor no, especially real estate developers,” Peebles told DNAinfo.
Federal and state investigators are currently looking into whether the De Blasio administration illegally raised funds and provided donors with favors in exchange for contributions.
Peebles was also contacted by former de Blasio campaign manager Ross Offinger, who alongside top mayoral aid Emma Wolfe has been subpoenaed by investigators.
In addition to the LICH site, Peebles’ back-and-forth with the mayor’s office came at a time when he was lodging a bid to convert 346 Broadway, a Tribeca building that housed city offices, into a 144-unit condominium. The conversion required approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which gave the plan the go-ahead last year.
Peebles has publicly said he’s considering running against de Blasio for mayor in 2017, and has referred to him as “anti-business,” “anti-wealth,” “anti-accomplishment,” and “mayor of the Socialist Party.” [DNAinfo] – Rey Mashayekhi