As it looks less likely that probes into the Rivington House and other matters will lead to criminal charges, federal investigators are reportedly focusing on whether donations to Mayor Bill de Blasio were swapped for favors from the city.
Officials have subpoenaed documents and emails from the mayor, his aides and others to determine if the administration took action on behalf of donors to de Blasio’s now-defunct Campaign for One New York, the New York Times reported. Two donors, including real estate investor Jona Rechnitz, are now cooperating with investigators. Rechnitz, of JSR Capital, is a key figure in a federal investigation in an NYPD pay-to-play scandal, in which he allegedly provided gifts and trips to officers — including a flight with a prostitute to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl — in exchange for favors. Investigators are trying to determine if the mayor provided favors to Rechnitz and other donors. The mayor has previously been accused of giving a retired police official a high-level position in his administration after Rechnitz called him and requested the appointment as a “personal favor.”
“We don’t do pay-to-play,” a spokesperson for de Blasio said in a statement. “Out of an interest of protecting the integrity of an ongoing review, we can’t comment further at this stage.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara are conducting the investigations.
More than six months into the probe, investigators haven’t uncovered enough evidence to warrant criminal charges that the mayor or his aides exchanged favors for contributions, the Times reported.
Those familiar with the cases told the Times that Rechnitz was cooperating in hopes of getting leniency for his own crimes. Other ongoing investigations into the mayor’s administration include the lifting deed restrictions at the Rivington House and the sale of the Long Island College Hospital. But, according to experts, those and other matters are less likely to lead to criminal charges. [NYT] — Kathryn Brenzel