Bill de Blasio

De Blasio Admin Reacts To End Of Fundraising Probe

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office on Thursday reacted to the decision by federal and city prosecutors to not bring any charges in multiple investigations into fundraising and political activities.

In a statement, de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips indicated the city administration was happy to turn the page.

“We have been confident from the moment these reviews began that the actions of the Mayor and our Administration have always been within the law,” Phillips said. “The United States Attorney and Manhattan District Attorney have now put to rest any suggestion otherwise. We thank these prosecutors’ offices for conducting what were clearly diligent and exhaustive reviews – and for making public the conclusions of these probes. New Yorkers deserve honest, progressive government. With this Mayor, they will always get it.”

Republican Paul Massey, one of de Blasio’s GOP rivals this year, insisted the story shouldn’t end here, however, pointing to the criticism by prosecutors of the mayor’s fundraising efforts.

“The US Attorney confirmed this highly corrupt activity where ‘Mayor de Blasio and others acting on his behalf solicited donations from individuals who sought official favors from the City,’ and the Manhattan District Attorney called de Blasio’s behavior ‘contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits, laws which are meant to prevent ‘corruption and the appearance of corruption’ in the campaign financing process,’ Massey said in a statement released by his campaign.

“Indeed, the Manhattan District Attorney affirmed that their ‘determination does not foreclose the BOE or others from pursuing any civil or regulatory action that they determine might be warranted by these facts.’

He called on the state Board of Elections “other appropriate agencies to pursue civil action” against the mayor.

De Blasio Cleared In Fundraising Probes

No charges will be brought following an extensive investigation of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his political associates, the U.S. attorney’s office on Thursday announced.

The investigation stemmed into de Blasio’s efforts to help elect Democrats to the state Senate in 2014 using county Democratic committees to aid candidates running in key swing districts outside of New York City including the Hudson Valley and in Monroe County.

Investigators also probed whether de Blasio’s donors sought favors in exchange for contributions to his political efforts, including the Campaign for One New York, conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office.

“After careful deliberation, given the totality of the circumstances here and absent additional evidence, we do not intend to bring federal criminal charges against the Mayor or those acting on his behalf relating to the fundraising efforts in question,” said Joon Kim, the acting U.S. attorney.

“Although it is rare that we issue a public statement about the status of an investigation, we believe it appropriate in this case at this time, in order not to unduly influence the upcoming campaign and Mayoral election.”

In a separate letter to the state Board of Elections, Vance, too, determined no charges would be brought by his office even as he was critical of the fundraising efforts.

“This conclusion is not an endorsement of the conduct at issue,” he wrote. “Indeed, the transactions appear contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits, laws which are meant to prevent ‘corruption and the appearance of corruption’ in the campaign finance process.”

The federal investigation had looked into whether de Blasio or his allies had skirted campaign finance laws by donating to county committees, which in turn aided the campaigns of Sens. Terry Gipson of the Poughkeepsie area and Ted O’Brien of Rochester, as well as candidate Justin Wagner in the Hudson Valley.

The announcement coincides days after the departure of former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who had led the investigation into de Blasio as well as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s closure of the Moreland Commission following an agreement on ethics reform changes in the state budget. Bharara announced in 2016 no charges would be brought in the Moreland Commission case.

The investigations had appeared to be winding down for the last several weeks after de Blasio met personally with federal prosecutors to discuss the probe.

De Blasio is running for a second term as mayor this November.

Cuomo: De Blasio and I In ‘Lockstep’ On Bombing Response

Despite the fact that they have held separate press conferences and were on different pages regarding whether this weekend’s Chelsea bombing was actually a terrorist act, Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted earlier today that he and his political nemesis, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, are in fact “in lockstep” in their response to this incident.

Cuomo, (who, by the way, was appearing without the mayor at Penn Station at at event where he was ostensibly thanking first responders for their work since the blast), said he and de Blasio “agree on all the facts, all the circumstances, all the actions.”

The governor, who has been publicly at odds with the mayor for over a year now, noted he and de Blasio tours the explosion site together yesterday, where they also engaged in a quick hug.

As to the question of why he and de Blasio appeared to disagree on whether this was an act of terrorism, the governor said:

“By definition, terrorism is taking an action that endangers human lives that appears to be intended to cause intimidation…I believe you set off a bomb, you set off a second bomb, that’s an effort to intimidate New Yorkers.”

Cuomo yesterday said there did not appear to be an international connection to this blast – no “hint of connection” to a foreign element’s involvement. Today, however, with the release of the name of a person of interest – Ahmad Khan Rahami, a naturalized United States citizen of Afghan descent, who apparently is in custody in New Jersey after engaging in a shoutout with police – he said there “may well turn out to be” a link to foreign organizations.

The governor said the differences of approach in addressing the incident yesterday was a case of “semantics,” adding:

“Some people call it terrorism, some people said it appeared to be terrorism. I believe that’s all semantics. I also believe you had a little politics going on frankly…Hillary clinton called it this. Donald Trump called it that. The media loves politics in the silly season, and we are in the silly season, which is more like the crazy season this season.”

Cuomo, Generally Speaking, Will Battle Local Incompetence

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s feud with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio shows little signs of slowing down anytime soon.

At a news conference on Tuesday for an update on the state’s response to the Zika virus, Cuomo stood by a statement released by a spokesman last week that suggested de Blasio was an incompetent manager of the city.

“I think the statement is perfectly clear,” Cuomo said. “I represent the people of the city of New York, I represent the people of the city of Buffalo. I represent the entire state.”

It’s his job, Cuomo insisted, to step in when a local government’s mayor is failing to do their job “for one reason or another.”

“If a mayor, any mayor, is not doing his job, for one reason or another, or can’t do their job, for one reason or another, or is playing politics with an issue, for one reason or another, I’m not going to let the people suffer and pay the price,” he said.

Cuomo and de Blasio have been locked an in an increasingly tense public battle over the last year after the mayor slammed the governor in an interview, accusing him of siding with Senate Republicans at the detriment to the city’s well being and his agenda in Albany.

Cuomo, in turn, has seemingly sought to undermine de Blasio ever more so, with the mayor’s team stymied on a variety of issues at the Capitol, including mayoral control of New York City schools.

Last week at the Democratic National Convention, de Blasio left a breakfast held for the New York delegation before he was due to speak after Cuomo spoke for nearly a half hour. Cuomo’s office denied it was an intentional snub of the mayor, who had another event scheduled later in the day.

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Monday found most voters do not believe the feud is a personal one between the two men, despite the apparent animosity.

At the same time, the poll found Cuomo had a higher job approval rating than de Blasio and a plurality of voters sided with the governor over the mayor.

In a tweet, de Blasio’s 2011 campaign adviser Bill Hyers knocked Cuomo’s statement at the news conference, saying the governor should “concentrate” on his own issues, such as the Hoosick Falls water contamination.

Q-Poll: Cuomo-de Blasio Feud Hurts City, Voters Say

A majority of voters in New York City believe the ongoing feud between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio has hurt the city, a Quinnipiac University poll released on Monday found.

The poll found 60 percent of voters in New York City believe the increasingly bitter rift between the two top Democrats has had a detrimental impact on the city.

But a plurality of voters — 42 percent — side with the governor over the mayor. Only 33 percent back de Blasio in the fight with Cuomo, the poll found.

Overall, it was a good news-bad news poll for de Blasio, who is up for re-election next year after a bumpy first term in office.

A majority of voters by a margin of 51 percent to 42 percent disapprove of his job as mayor, while half of voters, 50 percent to 42 percent, do not believe he deserves to be re-elected.

But the poll also found de Blasio tops three potential primary challengers — Comptroller Scott Stringer and former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn — in either head-to-head or three-way primary contests.

It has been a year of trouble for de Blasio aside from his feud with Cuomo. His administration is facing a variety of investigations, including one inquiry focusing on his efforts to aid Senate Democrats in 2014 through funneling contributions through county committees and another over the sale of the Rivington House.

Most voters, 49 percent to 40 percent, believe de Blasio is honest and trustworthy, but a majority — 52 percent — believe he does not have strong leadership qualities.

Still, it has been his ongoing battle with Cuomo, which has become increasingly pitched in recent months, that has dominated the headlines, most recently the perceived snub at a breakfast gathering of the New York delegation at the Democratic National Convention last week in Philadelphia.

However, 46 percent of voters in New York City, however, believe the fight stems from “honest disagreements” while 40 percent believe this is a personal feud.

Either way, the feud has not taken its toll on Cuomo in New York City, a crucial constituency for his re-election bid in 2018.

The poll found, by a margin of 60 percent to 34 percent, voters approve of the way he is handling his job as governor.

The poll of 1,310 registered New York City voters was conducted from July 21 through July 28. It has a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points.

080116 NYC MAYOR+ BP by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Mayoral Control ‘In Flux’

Extending mayoral control of New York City schools is “in flux” two days before the scheduled end of the legislative session, Senate Education Committee Chairman Carl Marcellino said earlier on Tuesday.

State lawmakers appeared to make little public headway on how long to extend the program, which Assembly Democrats previously approved for a three-year extension, a bill that is backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Senate Republicans had previously supported another 12-month extension of mayoral control, but on Monday night submitted changes that would provide a three-year deadline, along with the education tax credit, which is geared toward private schools, as well as a range of other provisions.

Assembly Democrats deemed the proposals dead on arrival.

“The Senate has the right to put in whatever bills they want to,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. “I’ll be clear: Those proposals are a non-starter for us, so to me it was a waste of time to put those proposals in.”

Complicating matters has been the personal antipathy Senate Republicans hold for new York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The conference last month submitted legislation that would require Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office to oversee the program. Cuomo and de Blasio have both feuded as well.

De Blasio in May traveled to Albany to defend his stewardship of mayoral control, but Majority Leader John Flanagan criticized his grasp of the issues.

Rank-and-file Republicans critical of de Blasio, too, signaled they were opposed to extending it under de Blasio.

“I could care less if it’s one year or three years,” said Sen. Terrence Murphy. “I still don’t trust Mayor Bill de Blasio.”

De Blasio: Mayoral Control In Senate’s Lap

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday pushed back against Senate Republicans for criticizing his decision not to appear at a hearing on the future of mayoral control of city schools.

In an interview with Brian Lehrer on WNYC, de Blasio said the issue was now essentially up to the GOP-led Senate after the Democratic-controlled Assembly approved a three-year extension of the program this week.

The mayor also noted he sat for hours of questions at a public hearing on mayoral control in Albany that was a largely cordial event.

“I think the fact that I went up there to Albany to spend four hours with them shows plenty of respect,” de Blasio said, “and now it is time for the Senate to make a decision.”

Senate Republicans are holding a second hearing today on mayoral control in New York City after Majority Leader John Flanagan was deeply critical of the appearance de Blasio put in at the Albany hearing earlier this month.

Republicans in the Senate have been previously at odds with de Blasio, but the dispute has taken on a more pronounced posture in recent weeks as the mayor’s fundraising activities on behalf of Senate Democrats in 2014 have come under scrutiny by federal investigators.

In the interview, de Blasio pointed out his predecessors — Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg — received considerably less heat over the program’s renewal.

“I hope that the State Senate will listen to the voices of Republicans and Democrats, listen to my two predessesors, Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Guiliani who agree as I do that we need mayoral control of education, listen to over 100 prominent business leaders who yesterday signed onto a letter calling for renewal of mayoral control,” he said.

“I hope the State Senate Republicans are listening to all those facts and they’ll make the right decision here in the name of the kids of our City. And that’s really what it should be about.”

Flanagan “No Closer To Signing Off” on Mayoral Control Extension

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan says he’s not convinced lawmakers should extend mayoral control of New York City schools for Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Flanagan said he had reviewed Wednesday’s Senate hearing on the issue and wasn’t impressed with the mayor’s testimony.

“Too often, the Mayor showed a disturbing lack of personal knowledge about the City schools,” Flanagan said in a statement. “In addition, he has left too many unanswered questions and failed to provide specifics on many of the issues raised by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.  Until that occurs, I will not entrust this Mayor with the awesome responsibility of operating the New York City school system.”

Lawmakers voted in 2015 to extend mayoral control for one year, with an expiration date at the end of June. Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco suggested on Capital Tonight last night that Republicans would approve an extension, though the length of which is unclear.

De Blasio had previously requested a permanent extension to mayoral control, then offered a three-year extension to lawmakers as a compromise. Neither idea made it to the floor.

The mayor is sitting in hot water with Senate Republicans for the time being after an elections probe into his 2014 effort to help Democrats win back the chamber. De Blasio had a tense exchange with at least one Senate Republican during yesterday’s hearing.

The Senate will hold another public hearing on mayoral control on May 19 in New York City. In his statement, Flanagan encouraged the mayor to return for a second round.

De Blasio Continues Defense Of Fundraising Activities

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in an interview on WNYC this morning reiterated his defense of his fundraising activities, which have fallen under the scrutiny of state and federal investigators.

At the same time, de Blasio suggested there was a political motivation behind the recommendation by the prosecution referral made by the chief enforcement counsel at the state Board of Elections. Risa Sugarman, an appointee of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, concluded in a memorandum de Blasio’s political team violated campaign finance laws when aiding Senate Democrats’ efforts in taking over the chamber in 2014.

“Everything was done very carefully, meticulously, with legal guidance all along the way, and consistent with what so many other people have done,” de Blasio said. “So that’s why I’m saying it’s very interesting that now it becomes a subject of these questions.”

De Blasio has been at odds with both Cuomo as well as Senate Republicans since taking office in 2011.

Aides to the mayor, in aiding Democratic candidates, directed large-dollar contributions to county Democratic committees in upstate races, which then turned around and transferred the money to individual candidates.

The practice is a commonplace one, but de Blasio’s push was done a large-scale project that hadn’t been seen before.

“I think we have to figure out some of the motivations behind it, because if we specifically followed every step along the way — legal guidance — and did what other mayors and other leaders have done for years and years under the laws of this state, following the letter and spirit of the law,” de Blasio said. “Well, that is how we are supposed to comport ourselves.”

Subpoenas have been issued to the mayor’s top political advisor, Emma Wolfe, as well as his campaign fundraiser, Ross Offinger, as well as outside political consultants with ties to de Blasio.

De Blasio Says He’s Cooperating With Federal Investigation

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio insisted Thursday his administration was cooperating with an ongoing federal and state investigation into his fundraising activities.

His comments to reporters in New York City come a day after top advisors to the mayor, including City Hall itself, were issued subpoenas as part of the ongoing inquiry.

“We hold ourselves to the highest standard of integrity. Everything we have done from the beginning is legal and appropriate,” de Blsaio said. “There’s an investigation going on. We are going to fully cooperate with that investigation.”

The investigation stems in part from de Blasio’s efforts in 2014 to help Democrats gain control of the state Senate.

Scrutiny is being placed on the common fundraising tactic of county committees receiving large contributions and then passing the money along to Democratic Senate candidates in an apparent effort to avoid fundraising limits. A committee backed by de Blasio’s political supporters, the Campaign For One New York, is also being eyed by investigators.

“We look forward to the speedy conclusion of it,” the mayor saod. “But we will fully cooperate. But since there is an investigation, I can’t go into any detail. That’s an ongoing process.”

The mayor himself has not been issued a subpoena.

However, a consulting firm with close ties to the mayor, Berlin Rosen, was issued a subpoena, including top political advisor Emma Wolfe.