Sunday, March 5, 2017

de Blasio Lobbyist Law Firm Makes Millions Off of City Hall Works in the Mayor's Criminal Case for Free

de Blasio Under Investigation for Pay to Play Will Not Commit to Banning His Legal Contributions From People Who Do Business With the City
De Blasio cagey about details of his legal defense fund (NYP)  de Blasio on Tuesday would not commit to banning contributions from people who do business with the city when he launches a legal defense fund to deal with multiple investigations. He also wouldn’t say whether he’ll take Comptroller Scott Stringer’s advice and seek guidance from the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board on the proper structure of the fund.  “We will set up a clear standard that is fair and avoids a conflict, but I am not going to go into details because that will take a lot of work and a lot of hours to figure out what is the right way to do things,” he told reporters at an unrelated press conference in Manhattan.  The mayor has also said he has yet to pay a single bill to his lawyer, Barry Berke at Kramer Levin, even though he was retained in April.  Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey has seized on that arrangement in calling for an investigation — and he hit de Blasio again Tuesday at a press conference outside City Hall. “Bill de Blasio is corrupt and New Yorkers deserve to know how deep the rot is at City Hall,” said Massey, a real estate executive. “It’s not a rumor or an accusation, it’s a fact.”  The mayor has insisted that he followed legal guidance in all of his fundraising efforts, which are under investigating by the US Attorney and the Manhattan DA

de Blasio Refuses to Disclose How He Will Pay His 

Lawyer Lobbyist Kramer and Levin

On Fake News NY1 Last Night de Blasio Was Not Asked One Question About the Corruption Investigation or How He Will Pay His Lawyers 
de Blasio declined to provide details about the legal defense fund he plans to set up amid state and federal investigations of his administration and fundraising activities, saying the parameters have yet to be finalized
De Blasio won't give details on legal-defense funds (NYP) Mayor de Blasio declined to provide details Tuesday about the legal-defense fund he plans to set up amid state and federal investigations of his administration and fund-raising activities.  Asked at an unrelated press conference in Brooklyn how the fund would work and whether he’d impose donation limits, Hizzoner said the parameters have yet to be finalized.  De Blasio was also asked whether such a fund would open him up to criticism that he’s relying on donations to pay for the legal defense of investigations into his prior fund-raising.  “It’s the only way — it’s a perfectly well-established mechanism — it’s the only way to put together the resources to pay for something like this,” he said.The mayor has committed to disclosing the donors to such a fund, which government watchdogs have warned could be on shaky ethical ground.   City taxpayers have chipped in as much as $11.6 million for the defense of mayoral aides who have been caught up in the probes, while the mayor’s 2013 campaign committee has paid $283,000 to defend campaign workers.

Stringer Calls for Conflict of Interests Board Review of the Mayor's Legal Defense Fund

City Controller Scott Stringer says Mayor de Blasio needs Conflicts ofInterest Board to clear legal defense fund (NYDN)  Mayor de Blasio should get conflict-of-interest clearance from the city over his plan to raise legal defense funds, city Controller Scott Stringer said Wednesday.  Last March, de Blasio retained Kramer Levin Naftalis to handle three investigations of his fund-raising tactics. The firm — which regularly lobbies City Hall — deferred payment until he forms a committee to raise funds to pay what he owes.  

Stringer, who Wednesday declined to say whether he’ll run against de Blasio, said the mayor needs the Conflict Of Interest Board to sign off on this fund.  “The mayor has to spend time figuring out the way to ensure that there is no perceived or potential conflict of interest with a lobbying firm that is also the law firm working on the mayor's behalf,” Stringer said.  The mayor’s press secretary, Eric Phillips, took a shot at Stringer, saying it’s impossible to know if COIB advice is necessary because the fund isn’t yet formed.  “There are not even prospective protocols to sort through, much less solicit legal or regulatory guidance on,” he said. “The controller has earned a reputation for not knowing what he's talking about because of criticism just like this.”* De Blasio backs law firm in fight over tainted land nearschool (NYDN)

GOP Mayoral Candidate Sents Letter to Feds and Manhattan DA to Investigatge de Blasio's Legal Fund
Paul Massey demands probe of de Blasio's legal representation (NYP) Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey is formally demanding the Manhattan DA US attorney probe Mayor de Blasio’s legal representation, describing it as “an arrangement no ordinary person or business entity could secure.”  Massey, a real-estate developer, sent letters to District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and US Attorney Preet Bharara on Friday.  Massey requested the offices “determine whether a thing of value, an illegal campaign contribution, or a failure by the mayor to pay lawfully rendered bills represents a violation of criminal law, the New York City Charter, or New York State ethics laws.”  De Blasio, who’s facing investigations by Vance and Bharara over his fund-raising, is using the law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel to represent him, but has not yet paid any of its bills. His spokesmen refused to say whether the mayor signed a retainer agreement with the firm last week, but said de Blasio plans to set up a legal-defense fund to pay the bills.  Government watchdogs have also criticized the arrangement because of the relative lack of scrutiny legal defense funds receive.  Unlike a campaign account, such funds are not subject to disclosure requirements.  More than a week ago, de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips issued a “fact sheet” that offered a vague outline of how payments would be handled.

de Blasio Counting On Deep Pocket Contributors to CONY PAC Under Federal Investigation That He A Target Of To Also Pay for His Legal Bills 
Is de Blasio Using Tax Payer $$$ to Pay for His Aids Lawyers to Keep Them From Ratting On Him?
De Blasio’s dubious plan for paying his lawyers (NYP Ed)  It’s come to this: Mayor de Blasio says he’ll do fund-raising down the line to pay the lawyers representing him in all those corruption probes into . . . his fund-raising, and possible favor-selling.  He’s spending $11.7 million in public funds on outside lawyers for several top aides also caught up in the investigations. But for the cash for his own attorneys, the mayor now says he’ll handle things through a legal defense fund or a future fund-raising event.  To which, presumably, the usual fat cats will give, with the usual expectation (at least) of return favors down the line. So the public can still end up paying . . .  It boggles the mind. The mayor seems to think he can convince US Attorney Preet Bharara that everything was kosher. But if that doesn’t work, he just might blame one of those aides.  Could that be top confidante Emma Wolfe? The Post’s Michael Gartland reports she’s been noticeably absent from key City Hall meetings for four months. Political intrigue aside, de Blasio’s Campaign For One New York was set up to operate outside of city campaign-finance rules. That meant it could — and did — accept money from people doing business with the city, who didn’t exactly suffer from having written big checks.  Which raises the next big question: Will such people be banned from donating to a legal-defense fund? That could get tricky — since it sure looks like the mayor is going to need a lot of deep-pocketed “supporters.”
de Blasio Legal Fees to Be Paid for by the Same Deep Pocket Developers That Funded CONY Now Under Federal Investigation

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