Jona Rechnitz says he was given mayor’s cell, told to “always be in touch”

Brooklyn real estate figure testified in trial of union boss Norman Seabrook

TRD New York /
Oct.October 27, 2017 08:37 AM

From left: Jona Rechnitz, Ross Offinger and Mayor Bill de Blasio

Jona Rechnitz — one of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s biggest donors — Told A Federal Court he had a direct line to City Hall with a clearly-understood quid pro quo relationship.

Rechnitz, who pleaded guilty to bribing public officials, agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors and was the star witness in the trial of former union boss Norman Seabrook.

Rechnitz said before the 2013 election, de Blasio gave him his personal cell phone number and told him to “call if there’s anything I need, always be in touch.” He said he regularly went through de Basio aide Ross Offinger when requesting favors. As of last month, Offinger was making $10,000 a month to raise money for the mayor’s reelection campaign.

“[Offinger] would call when they needed money,” Rechnitz said in Manhattan Federal Court, the New York Daily News reported. “I would call whenever I had an issue.”

In one meeting, Rechnitz said he told Offinger, “We expect a lot of access and influence in the office… When we call we want answers.” Offinger’s responded: “Okay. How much do you think you guys can get together?”

Eric Phillips, de Blasio’s press secretary, disputed that the administration made decisions based on donations. He called Rechnitz’s allegations “re-heated, re-packaged accusations that have been extensively reviewed and passed on by authorities at multiple levels.”

Federal prosecutors dropped a probe into de Blasio’s campaign fundraising practices earlier this year, but issued a sharp rebuke.

Rechnitz, the head of real estate firm JSR Capital, personally donated $50,000 to de Blasio’s Campaign for One New York, as well as $102,300 in 2014 for state Senate races. He also raised $41,000 through bundled checks.

Rechnitz — who used “straw donors” to avoid campaign finance limits — said City Hall intervened when Rechnitz was cited for illegal Airbnb activity at a building he owned. “I called Ross, and I told him I wanted him to get me in front of the people who make these decisions so that I don’t have to keep paying these expensive violations,” he said. [NYDN] — E.B. Solomont


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Donor tied up with de Blasio’s real estate pal Rechnitz sentenced in NYPD bribery scheme

Donor tied up with de Blasio’s real estate pal Rechnitz sentenced in NYPD bribery scheme

Donor tied up with de Blasio’s real estate pal Rechnitz sentenced in NYPD bribery scheme
Jona Rechnitz says he pressured de Blasio to help friend in lawsuit against SL Green

Jona Rechnitz says he pressured de Blasio to help friend in lawsuit against SL Green

Jona Rechnitz says he pressured de Blasio to help friend in lawsuit against SL Green
Jona Rechnitz booted as partner on commercial property in Borough Park

Jona Rechnitz booted as partner on commercial property in Borough Park

Jona Rechnitz booted as partner on commercial property in Borough Park
Sam Chang and TownePlace Suites by Marriott at 324 West 44th Street (Google Maps)

Hotelier Sam Chang’s businesses snagged millions in PPP loans

Hotelier Sam Chang’s businesses snagged millions in PPP loans
Vornado CEO Steven Roth with 1535 Broadway and 220 Central Park South (Getty, VNO, Google Maps)

Vornado sees $100M retail JV loss, $190M in 220 CPS gains

Vornado sees $100M retail JV loss, $190M in 220 CPS gains
A view of the Wise Towers at 117 West 90th Street (Google Maps)

Tension rises as public housing gets private management

Tension rises as public housing gets private management
New York City council member Margarate Chin, Mayor Bill de Blasio and council member Carlina Rivera (Getty; iStock)

Why the Soho rezoning will pass — and Gowanus, too

Why the Soho rezoning will pass — and Gowanus, too
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Getty, iStock)

Commercial eviction and foreclosure ban extended until January

Commercial eviction and foreclosure ban extended until January
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...