Sunday, March 5, 2017

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


The Pay to Play Conflict of Interests of de Blasio'sCriminal Law Firm in the Federal and State Investigation That Also Lobby's Himfor Developers




Last Night on NY1 de Blasio Said He Did Not Know Any of the Work His Law firm Did! Not Only Did He Know He Took Court Action to Help His Lawyer Lobbyists Kramer Levin
De Blasio denies conflict with using law firm that lobbies his administration (NYDN)  de Blasio said there’s no conflict in his use of a law firm that also lobbies his administration on behalf of private clients.  “My experience with this firm is as someone receiving legal services from them — for which they will be fully compensated,” de Blasio said of the firm Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel, which is representing him in a series of investigations into his fund-raising tactics.  “I don’t know any of the other work they do. I don’t experience any of the other work they do,” he said on NY1’s “Road to City Hall.” “I just don’t see any such challenge or conflict.”  In addition to its legal practice, Kramer Levin has a lobbying unit — whose earnings surged to $3 million for lobbying the city last year, the same year the firm was hired by the mayor.  De Blasio has not yet paid his legal bills and plans to raise donations to do so. He has refused to rule out taking legal defense money from donors with business before the city.  The mayor said he’s sure his officials would not give special treatment to lobbyists for the firm that represents their boss.

All the Daily News Had to Do Was Link to a 2016 Article by the Daily News to Show That Not Only Did the Mayor Know About Kramer Levin Lobbying Work, His Law Dept Filed an "Amicus Brief" in Support of His Law Firm Who He Has Not Paid Client

Team de Blasio Files Amicus Brief Again A Judge Who Stopped A Developer Client of Kramer Levin Because of A Toxic Site
Deputy mayor says city isn't taking sides in spat between PS 163 parentsand developer (NYDN, April 27th 2016)  The city’s lawyers jumped to defend the developer of an Upper West Side nursing home in court independently from City Hall because of a technicality in the case — and not because of the mayor’s ties to the law firm for the controversial project, officials said Wednesday.  First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, the number two official at City Hall, said the mayor’s office was completely unaware that the law department was filing papers in Jewish Home Lifecare's legal bid to construct a 20-story nursing home on W. 97th St.  The nursing home — which is being sued by parents who claim the construction will harm kids in neighboring P.S. 163 — is repped by Kramer Levin, the law firm where Mayor de Blasio’s lawyer Barry Berke is a partner.  Berke is defending de Blasio in the federal investigation into his fund-raising.  Zachary Carter, the Corporation Counsel for the city's Law Department, said his office weighed in independently after a judge said the environmental review process didn’t take into account the impact on the school.  De Blasio has not yet paid his legal bills and plans to raise donations to do so. He has refused to rule out taking legal defense money from donors with business before the city.  He also said that the amicus brief the city filed wasn't to support the developer in its fight with parents over construction noise, but because the judge's ruling that the environmental review process wasn't adequate could negatively impact other projects. * De Blasio Throws Support Behind Controversial JHL Nursing Home Project (DNAINFO) De Blasio's Office of Sustainability is seeking to overturn a Dec. 9 decision that blocked Jewish Home Lifecare's construction of the 20-story nursing home on West 97th Street, next to elementary school P.S. 163 and a residential complex.


If the Daily News Reporter Durkin Checked Her Own Papers She Would Have Noticed A Rivington Deed Change 1199 Connection to Kramer and Levin Jewish Home Lifecare Developer Client 
Rene Kathawala, whose children attend P.S. 163 and an attorney for the parents suing, called the city’s meddling “political” and noted another possible explanation: the powerful health care union 1199 SEIU United Health Care Workers.  The union is a major de Blasio backer, writing a $250,000 check on March 2, 2015, to Campaign for One New York, the group de Blasio set up to support his pet projects like pre-K.  With its members working at many JHL facilities, 1199 became a vocal supporter of the W. 97th St. project, testifying to the BSA in support of it. (NYDN)









On April 27, 2016 Real Deal Reported Kramer Levin's Berke Was the Lawyer for the Jewish Home Lifecare Development Two Days Later Real Deal Said Another Lawyer Was Handling the Case On May 6th the Daily News Reported That Berke Was the Lawyer for Both the Development and the Parking Lot That Was Part of the Project 
In a fight with Public School 163 parents — an Upper West Side school fighting to stop the owner of a toxic lot and developer who want to put a nursing home nearby — Kramer Levin represented both the owner of the W. 97th St. parking lot, PWV Owners LLC, and Jewish Home Lifecare, the nursing home group that wants to build the 20-story facility. (NY Daily News, (May 6th 2016) * Judge Says More Environmental Review Needed on UWS NursingHome (Manhattan Express)  According to Marty Rosenblatt, a neighbor who arranged for expert lead testing on the site, the mayor’s favor for the JHL project may stem from his close relations with Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel LLP, a law firm that represented JHL in the past and currently represents Joseph Chetrit, a real estate developer with a big investment in the 97th Street development being approved. In late 2011, Joseph Chetrit partnered with Larry Gluck of Stellar Management, who owns the parking lot on West 97th Street that would be replaced by the nursing home, to complete a land swap deal for JHL’s current campus on West 106th Street, which like the West 97th site is between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. Many observers believe Chetrit, a well-known developer, plans to construct a tall luxury condo development on JHL’s former campus.  Kramer Levin, Rosenblatt noted, represented JHL on the nursing home project during its appearances before the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals in 2015. (Manhattan Express)




















The NY Post Says The Fact That de Blasio Has Not Paid His Law Firm and They Are Lobbying Him for Their Clients Sets Up Some Shady Ways
The idea that the law firm is, in effect, extending him credit is troubling enough, since that can be seen as a “favor” — just as any lower-than-usual rates it charges would be. But how can a mayor up to his eyeballs in corruption probes try to keep such key info secret, especially when he insists he has done nothing wrong?  What makes the secretive deferred-payment deal particularly problematic is that the law firm, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, also lobbies city agencies on behalf of clients with business before the city. So de Blasio may return those favors in some shady way. (NYP)









Federal Rat Rechnitz Attended Fund Raiser At Kramer Levin Office in 2013
By Dec. 3, 2013, weeks before Mr. de Blasio took office, Mr. Rechnitz was sitting in a conference room packed with other potential donors at the Midtown law firm Kramer Levin. There, according to a person who also attended the meeting, the mayor spoke to the group before leaving the room. Those in attendance were then asked for contributions. (NY Times)


Kramer Levin Pushing Tall Building On Two Bridges Community and Protesters
Waterfront Developers Reject Demand for Longer CommunityEngagement Process (DNAINFO) Developers bringing three massive residential developments to the Two Bridges waterfront have rejected a demand from neighborhood representatives to allow more time for community engagement before the city kicks off its official review of the projects' anticipated impact, stating they believe it would be "counterproductive."  Kramer Levin Lobby for Two Bridges Associates Limited Partnership City Planning, Department of (DCP), City Planning Commission (CPC), Mayor, Office of the (OTM), Borough President - Manhattan, NYC Council Members, Community Boards * Out of the mouths of attorneys: Kramer Levin’s leaders onland use, rezoning (Real Deal) 

  Kramer Levin, whose real estate condo practice is co-headed by Jay Neveloff and Jonathan Canter, took the top spot in 2015, with seven projects valued at $7.3 billion, up 73 percent year-over-year.

Neveloff A Trump Attorney Runs the Real Estate Department for Kramer Levin
For those in the industry who lack close ties to Trump, there are numerous potential middlemen that could help gain access, sources say. One is Trump’s attorney Jay Neveloff, who heads the real estate department at Kramer Levin. Asked for comment, Neveloff said he is certain Trump will not be susceptible to special interests (Atlantic Yard Review).













List of Kramer Levin Clients That They They Lobbied de Blasio's City Hall List in Formation 

137 Centre Street, LLC
Roseland Development Associates, LLC
VIDEO: Roseland Ballroom Being Gutted to Make Way forApartment Tower
The Shubert Organization, Inc., Seaver Realty LLC, Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, DH VERNON LLC. Lenox Terrace Development Associates  Lenox Terrace ResidentsFighting Against Proposed Commercial Rezoning (DNAINFO), Urban Strategic Partners, LLC, The Core Club 55th Street LLC, Douglaston Development, SJC 33 OWNER 2015, LLC, MIP One Wall Street Acquisition LLC, The Archdiocese of New York, South Street Seaport Limited Partnership, NY 70th St. LLC, Design Center Inc., 94th Street Property TIC, 172-174 East, LLC,   DH VERNON LLC, 771 Washington Street Investor LLC, 458 LLC, 137 Centre Street, LLC, Graduate Center Foundation Housing Corporation LIC, YWA-Amsterdam LLC, 21E12 LLC, 245 Fieldston LLC, RFR Holding Corp, MIP One Wall Street Acquisition LLC, DiamondRock Hospitality Limited Partnership for the benefit of DiamondRock NY LEX Owner, LLC., 249 W 28th Street Properties, LLC, Brickman 95 Morton LLC, The Archdiocese of New York, FPG Cobble Hill Acquisitions, LLC



Kramer and Levin is Pushing A Toxic Lot According to Judge Lobis Development On the Upper West Side
De Blasio’s law firm also represents controversial UWS developer he backed (Raw Deal, April 27, 2016) Kramer Levin is working on both the mayor’s corruption probe and Jewish Home Lifecare’s nursing home project The law firm aiding Mayor Bill de Blasio in his fight against a federal campaign finance investigation is also working with Jewish Home Lifecare, the developer of a controversial 20-story nursing home on the Upper West Side, which de Blasio has supported.The firm is working with JHL on its 97th Street project, in which the developer hopes, among other things, to dig up a lead-tainted parking lot adjacent to P.S. 163. Residents have fought the project for years. It passed an environmental review last year, but that review was vacated by the New York Supreme Court in December.  The developer is seeking to overturn that ruling. De Blasio’s office filed an amicus brief on that case in March. “That is an example of where the relationships bump into one another and it would be best to keep them apart,” *  Suit linked to mayor’s campaignc ontroversy could disrupt land-use rules (Real Deal April 29, 2016) The mayor’s office filed a friend of the court brief in favor of the developer, Jewish Home Lifecare, setting off accusations that de Blasio simply wanted to help out the law firm representing the developer, Kramer Levin. The firm is also representing de Blasio in the federal investigation into whether he funneled contributions to candidates in the 2014 state Senate election to avoid contribution limits. City officials told the website that Kramer Levin attorney and longtime de Blasio ally Barry Berke wasn’t involved in the lawsuit, though the firm does represent the developer in other matters. Greenberg Traurig is representing the developer in the lawsuit. The city’s brief claimed that the lawsuit could “upset the consistent and predictable process developed over decades by the city for reviewing potential environmental impacts of projects and programs throughout the city.” The brief argued that Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis’ ruling in favor of the parents and students would “insert an arbitrary threshold for adequacy into the environmental review process.”  The appeals court is slated to hear the case in June

The Council Speaker Was Helped By the Nursing-Home in Her 2009 Campaign
Nursing-home associates donate to Mark-Viverito’s re-election (NYP)  Nearly two-dozen associates of an upper Manhattan nursing home donated to a City Council member’s re-election campaign after she got the facility a unique exemption from local construction rules.  A total of 17 trustees, four staff members, an associate and a lobbyist for Jewish Home and Hospital — many of whom don’t live in the city, let alone uptown — contributed to Melissa Mark-Viverito’s 2009 council campaign, online records show.  Their combined $7,825 in donations made up 10 percent of the total that Mark-Viverito — currently the front-runner for council speaker — raised for the race.  Many of their grants were matched with public funding at a rate of 6 to 1, making them worth much more.  While there’s no evidence Mark-Viverito’s campaign solicited the contributions, the donations all came after she got the nursing home the right to construct a building at 120 W. 106th St. that would exceed the height limit under a rezoning plan.  It was the only facility to get a carve-out after the center, now known as Jewish Home Lifecare, spent $100,000 on lobbying directed at council and community-board members.




True News Had Today's Daily News Story About de Blasio's Law Firm Making Millions Lobbying City Hall and Representing the Mayor For Free Two Weeks Ago 
Law firm's lobbying unit sees big income boost after deBlasio hires its attorneys for his corruption probe defense (NYDN) The same year Mayor de Blasio hired Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel to represent him in corruption probes, the law firm’s lobbying unit suddenly started raking in bigger bucks.  By the end of 2016, Kramer Levin reported receiving more than $3 million in revenue from its activities lobbying the city.  That put Kramer Levin on the Top 10 lobbyist list for the first time since 2013, the last year of the Bloomberg administration, when the firm reported $1.7 million in lobbying revenue.  In the last two years, Kramer Levin has reported lobbying the Office of the Mayor on behalf of dozens of clients, usually developers seeking zoning changes or tax breaks. In 2016 the firm made $3 million by pressing de Blasio’s team for 30 clients. The firm actually lobbied on behalf of more clients in 2015 — 39 — but made less money, under $2 million, records show.  Neither the mayor nor the law firm would discuss the figures, which were made public last week by the city clerk’s office. Both have said in the past that the firm keeps the two activities separate, so there’s no conflict.The mayor first revealed in March 2016 that Kramer Levin partner Barry Berke, a prominent criminal defense lawyer, would represent him personally in investigations that were then beginning to surface in public.Berke had sponsored a fund-raiser for the mayor at the firm’s office in 2013, and then served as de Blasio’s campaign treasurer in 2014.  His job was to steer the mayor through the shifting waters of investigations by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics (J-COPE).  Bharara is examining whether de Blasio and his team did favors for donors to the mayor’s now defunct nonprofit, Campaign for One New York. The Daily News found that at least $3 million of the $4.3 million he raised came from people doing business with his administration.  Some of Kramer Levin’s clients have donated to the campaign, including DDG, a developer who wrote a $10,000 check to the mayor’s group eight days after the city Bureau of Standards & Appeals approved a zoning change for his proposed Tribeca luxury condo.



Last month, de Blasio revealed he’s been getting legal bills from the firm since last year, but they’ve agreed he can defer payment until he sets up a fund-raising committee to pay what he owes.  It’s unclear how large the tab is from the high-priced firm because de Blasio has refused to disclose the amount. His press secretary, Eric Phillips, did not respond to questions about the status of the legal defense fund or whether de Blasio has begun soliciting donations.  That means that for the last year, a law firm that regularly lobbies the mayor’s office on behalf of private sector clients was effectively representing the mayor for free.  Good-government watchdogs have criticized the whole arrangement, noting that de Blasio will face even more conflict-of-interest issues if he seeks donations from entities whom do business with the city.  De Blasio has said there is no conflict because Kramer Levin is able to keep its lobbying of his office separate from its representation of him.  And the mayor promises to disclose donations, though he wouldn’t commit to avoiding the solicitation of entities that do business with the city.



de Blasio Hoist By His Own Petard on Paying His Lawyers 

De Blasio's plan to pay for legal defense is illegal, board rules (NYP) The city’s Conflicts of Interest Board dealt a major blow to Mayor de Blasio on Wednesday — ruling that his plan to form a legal defense fund to pay for legal bills was against the law. “The board has concluded that contributions to legal defense funds are no different from gifts directly to the public servant,” wrote board chair Richard Briffault.  That means donations to a legal defense fund are limited to $50 per individual — except for family members, who can contribute as much as they want. Hizzoner had earlier announced that he would form the fund and seek donations from supporters to pay for hefty legal bills resulting from separate state and federal probes into his fundraising. While not mentioning the mayor by name, the board issued the ruling after it “received requests for advice from public servants to help establish legal defense funds.” Both the Manhattan DA’s office and the US Attorney’s office announced earlier this month that the mayor would not be charged as a result of their investigations. But de Blasio still faces huge legal bills, since his lawyers have been working for months to get him off the hook.  Comptroller Scott Stringer had advised the mayor to seek guidance from the board on how to structure the defense fund — but it was unclear whether de Blasio requested the ruling.  De Blasio’s camp previously put out a statement saying “no taxpayer dollars will be used to fund the Mayor’s individual compliance with these reviews.”  The legal expenses of mayoral aides who were also under investigation are being covered by taxpayers to the tone of $11.6 million. Last month, de Blasio said the legal defense fund was his only option to pay the legal since he’s not rich. “We have to do that. It’s the only way,” the mayor said at the time. “I inform you again that I am not a billionaire like my predecessor. There’s no way I can possibly cover these fees personally.” He hasn’t disclosed what he owes.* De Blasio Stymied in Attempt to Pay Legal Fees With Donations (NYT) A city agency capped donations to the mayor’s planned legal defense fund to cover legal bills he incurred during inquiries into his fund-raising practices.* DeBlasio’s legal defense fund-raising suffers blow as city board rules eachdonation cannot exceed $50 (NYDN) * De Blasio’s price to pay for his fundraisingescapade (NYDN Ed) * It is poetic justice that to pay the lawyers who defended his unethical scheme of raising money in massive sums, de Blasio will have to go begging, collecting less than $50 at a time, the Daily News writes.   * It is poetic justice that to pay the lawyers who defended his unethical scheme of raising money in massive sums, de Blasio will have to go begging, collecting less than $50 at a time, the Daily News writes.  * De Blasio should just bite the bullet and send taxpayers his legal bill (NYP Ed) * In the wake of the city Conflicts of Interest Board decision limiting donations to de Blasio’s legal defense fund to $50 per person, the mayor has no choice but to bite the bullet and charge the taxpayers, and he might as well admit it, the Post writes.

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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