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

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

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
WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani (Getty Images, WeWork)
WeWork stock has taken a WeDive. Will it resurface?
WeWork stock has taken a WeDive. Will it resurface?
Cartier's Cyrille Vigneron and 653 Fifth Avenue (Cartier, Linkedin, Getty)
Cartier betting on appetite for luxury with US retail expansion
Cartier betting on appetite for luxury with US retail expansion
Gale Brewer (Getty, Gale Brewer)
City takes aim at landlords’ empty retail space
City takes aim at landlords’ empty retail space
SL Green chairman Marc Holliday and One Madison Avenue (Getty Images, SL Green Realty Corp)
Franklin Templeton takes 347K sf at SL Green’s One Madison Avenue
Franklin Templeton takes 347K sf at SL Green’s One Madison Avenue
Leslie Alexander with 1117 Main Road in Riverhead (top) and 2045 Sound Avenue in Mattituck (Getty, Compass)
Leslie Alexander lists pair of North Fork properties with development rights
Leslie Alexander lists pair of North Fork properties with development rights
arrow_forward_ios

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

Loading...