Monday, February 6, 2017

Manhattan DA Interviews de Blasio For Money Laundering CONY PAC Contributors to Win Democratic State Senate Races BHARARA INTERVIEW NEXT

Manhattan DA Looking At How de Blasio's Laundered Money Through Campaign for 1NY PAC to Run State Senate Upstate Democratic Campaigns 
Mayor de Blasio interviewed by Manhattan DA’s office amidprobe into his administration (NYDN) He said the interview "me and my lawyers" and took place "a few weeks back," but would not reveal any of what was discussed. De Blasio's office is being probed by state and federal authorities on multiple fronts, including whether they did favors for donors to the mayor's political non-profit, and how a deed restriction was lifted at a Lower East Side nursing home now being turned into luxury housing.  De Blasio said he has not testified before a grand jury, nor has he been informed that he is a target of a grand jury investigation.* De Blasio says DA interviewed him over campaign fundraising (NYP) DA Cyrus Vance is investigating whether de Blasio violated state campaign finance laws in his effort to put a Democratic majority in the state Senate in 2014.  The inquiry is examining whether large donations were funneled to specific candidates through upstate Democratic counties in an apparent bid to avoid campaign donation limits.  Top de Blasio aide Emma Wolfe and his campaign fundraiser, Ross Offinger, who’s now working as a consultant on the mayor’s 2017 re-election campaign, are also targets of the DA’s probe, according to public reports. US Attorney Preet Bharara is separately probing the mayor’s shuttering nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York, and whether donors to the group got favors in return from City Hall.  Hizzoner raised $4.3 million for the political nonprofit, including from hosts of individuals and firms with business interests before the city.* De Blasio admits to being interviewed by Manhattan prosecutors (NYP) 
While de Blasio and the press focus on Putnam $$$ laundering the FBI looks at the Terminator: Citizens United

The mayor has repeatedly maintained that his office has followed the law and that no donors received special treatment.  Separate federal and state grand juries have been convened in cases involving City Hall, but de Blasio said Wednesday that he hasn’t testified before either one. De Blasio Confirms Interview With Manhattan Prosecutors(NYT) “The Manhattan D.A.’s office asked for an interview and we did an interview,” Mr. de Blasio said in response to a question from a reporter at an unrelated news conference on traffic safety. Asked to clarify who was present for the interview, he said, pressing his hand to his chest, “Me, and my lawyers.”  He did not provide the precise date of the interview, saying it had occurred “a few weeks back,” or any details of what was discussed, referring questions to his lawyers.  Eric F. Phillips, the mayor’s top spokesman, later said it had occurred in late December and was “a voluntary discussion.” He declined further comment. Grand juries have been convened in both cases. Mr. de Blasio said on Wednesday that he had not testified before a grand jury or been notified that he was the target of a grand jury investigation. The fact that Mr. de Blasio was interviewed by prosecutors appeared to indicate that the state portion of the investigation had reached its final stages.

A law enforcement official, who requested anonymity in order to discuss the matter, said the outcome could be announced as soon as February. Others with knowledge of the federal inquiry said that it also appeared to be nearing completion. The Law Department, which along with lawyers from the firm Debevoise & Plimpton, is representing Mr. de Blasio and City Hall staff members in the inquiries, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the mayor’s interview. “I’m not going to characterize it; it was fine,” Mr. de Blasio said with a laugh as he was asked to describe the interview. “That’s good. Again, again. Guys. Not going into any details. Lawyers can fill in for you. I just told you the factual answer to your question.” * Amid more than a half-dozen probes of Mayor de Blasio’s administration, a number of municipal workers have been asked to sign a confidentiality agreement that makes it clear they should shut their traps when it comes to city business, it was reported Monday.
Gothamist wrote that “scores of City Hall staffers” were asked to immediately sign the agreement, an image of which the news site posted online.

Why are City Tax Payers the Bill for de Blasio Lawyers in A Crimial Investigation by the Manhattan DA That Has to Do With Politics and . . .
That Has Nothing to Do With City Govt Business?

de Blasio Bushes Off Political Work After This True News Report

Paying for his mistakes: Taxpayers are putting upmillions to fund the de Blasio administration's legal defense (NYDN)  Taxpayer funds can only be used for legal services that apply to city workers doing city business — not to consultants paid by de Blasio’s now-shuttered Campaign for One New York or his failed effort to secure Democratic Party control of the state Senate. 
De Blasio defends spending $11.7M on city’s legal bills (NYP, WNYC)  At one point in the 30-minute interview, de Blasio grew irritated when Lehrer suggested city funds were being used to defend the mayor’s political campaign work — which is also under law enforcement scrutiny. “That’s entirely inaccurate,” de Blasio shot back. “That’s just crazy.”  The campaign probes include one by the Manhattan District Attorney into de Blasio’s fund-raising on behalf of state Senate Democrats in 2014. The mayor said this week he was interviewed by DA officials in late December.
Taxpayers to payup to $11.65M for legal defense of de Blasio administration in probe offund-raising practices (NYO)   Contract to Defend De Blasio and Aides to Cost City $11.6 Million (NYT) The bill for defending Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials in state and federal criminal investigations into fund-raising practices has grown, with six city contracts for outside law firms now totaling more than $11.6 million.  The contracts, filed with the city comptroller’s office and obtained by The New York Times through a request under the state’s Freedom of Information Law, provide the bare minimum of detail as to their purpose other than representing city employees in possible grand jury hearings related to what the Law Department calls, in its paperwork, the “John Doe Investigation.”  Taken together, the contracts contain a constellation of white-collar criminal defense and trial lawyers from law firms big and small, as well as the maximum they can bill in the city’s defense: Debevoise & Plimpton, $10 million; Carter Ledyard & Millburn, $750,000; Walden Macht & Haran, $350,000; Lankler   Lawyers from the firms, all of which declined to comment on the contracts, are tasked with preparing witnesses who may be subpoenaed or asked to give testimony to a grand jury. State and federal grand juries have begun hearing evidence from prosecutors, according to people familiar with the matter.

 Mr. de Blasio, who is facing re-election this year, said on Wednesday that while he had not testified before any grand jury, he had been interviewed by prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which has been looking into whether he or his aides violated state law while raising money for Democrats in an unsuccessful effort to help his party take control of the State Senate in 2014. In the federal investigation, prosecutors are looking into whether Mr. de Blasio or other officials and aides provided beneficial action for donors in exchange for contributions to the mayor’s 2013 campaign or the Campaign for One New York, his now-shuttered political nonprofit.  One of the contracts, with Carter Ledyard, mentions providing legal services in response to investigations into the removal by the city of a deed restriction on Rivington House, a Manhattan nursing home, that allowed for its sale to luxury condominium developers. That amount does not include spending on Barry H. Berke, a partner at Kramer Levin and his 2013 campaign treasurer, who is representing Mr. de Blasio as well.* De Blasio’s legal fees on the rise, will cost city over $11M (NYP) According to the records, which were obtained Thursday through a Freedom of Information request, the city’s Law Department agreed to pay Carter Ledyard & Milburn up to $750,000 to represent the city in investigations conducted by the US Attorney’s Office, the city Department of Investigation, the city Comptroller’s Office and “other entities” into the Rivington House scandal.  The sale of the former nursing home for AIDS patients came under scrutiny after the city’s lifting of deed restrictions in 2015. That led to a land deal, which netted the buyer a $72 million windfall when it flipped the building. De Blasio and his aides are under the microscope for that deal, as well as for the fundraising practices of his campaign and the non-profit Campaign for One New York.  Opponents were quick to attack the fees. One shows how the city Law Department agreed to pay lawyer Paul Bergman $450 an hour to represent “a New York City employee who has been or may be subpoenaed” in the federal probe. The total contract is worth up to $99,000 and does not specify a client’s name, but does refer to the John Doe Investigation, Law Dept. Matter No. 2016-013018, a reference to the federal probe into whether Team de Blasio exchanged favors for campaign cash.  Other legal hires include the Cunningham Levy firm, which can expect $550 an hour for partners and up to $200,000 total; Carter Ledyard & Milburn, which will get up to $750 an hour and $750,000 total; and Lankler Siffert & Wohl, which will get up to $250,000 for representing a city employee who may give testimony or provide documents to a grand jury. Legal bills to cover de Blasio’s defense for a separate probe into efforts to back state senate candidates are being picked up by his political operation, a City Hall spokesman said. But de Blasio’s campaign declined to respond.* Taxpayers to pay up to $11.65M for legal defense of deBlasio administration in probe of fund-raising practices (NYDN) de Blasio’s 2013 campaign is covering the costs for Ross Offinger, the committee’s treasurer. That’s legal since he’s held no City Hall office; the City Charter forbids using campaign cash for the other aides’ lawyers.  That said, the mayor could tap any remaining Campaign for One New York funds for these bills: That wouldn’t even risk an appearance of impropriety, since CONY’s closing down.

Both WNBC and Daily News Spin for the Mayor
Real Estate Owns the Media 
Lawyers representing de Blasio call for sit-down withU.S. Attorney Preet Bharara over fund-raising probe (NYDN) Lawyers for Mayor de Blasio have asked the Manhattan U.S. Attorney for a sit-down to discuss the feds’ ongoing probe of the mayor’s fundraising tactics, the Daily News has learned. It’s not clear when that meeting will take place, but this type of request from attorneys for subjects of investigations is quite common.   WNBC-TV reported the mayor himself has agreed to answer questions without the protection of immunity because he believes he can convince them he was not involved in any quid pro quo with his donors. A rep for the mayor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  There are now two sets of lawyers — taxpayer-funded and campaign-funded — defending the mayor and his aides in ongoing probes by Bharara and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. In addition, de Blasio’s 2013 campaign has spent $283,748 since July on three other firms to defend the mayor and his campaign in the federal and state probes.  A third investigation by the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics is looking at whether donations to Campaign for One New York broke campaign finance laws.

Cuomo Using Tax Payer Funded Lawyers Also, But Only Using 10% of Gov$ That the Mayor is Spending 
By contrast, the state comptroller in December approved a $950,000 contract for outside legal services for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo related to a federal investigation into the Buffalo Billion project and the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute.* Cuomo defense against federal probe cost taxpayers $650K (NYP) * Your bill for the Cuomo-de Blasio legal teams (NYP)  Cuomo, on the other hand, faces no legal impediment to using his campaign funds to cover his own teams’ lawyers’ bills.   Last year, the public paid $643,000 of an approved $950,000 contract with firm Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello to represent Cuomo and his staff in US Attorney Preet Bharara’s corruption investigation.  Cuomo’s campaign kitty reported $21.9 million cash on hand as of Jan. 15.  To be fair, the governor wants state law changed to prevent the use of campaign cash for legal defenses, so he’s arguably being consistent here. On the other hand, he recently vetoed legislation to have the state pay poor defendants’ legal fees.

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