The decision also gives a green light to politicians who are willing to abuse the power of incumbency to stay in office. Let’s face it — that includes just about every pol on the planet. In plain English, the statement by prosecutors boils down to this: You can avoid the law, you can evade the law and you can do your big donors’ bidding. To be clear, there was nothing ethical or admirable about what de Blasio did. The favorable government actions he gave to donors are open and notorious, as are the benefits he got from the millions of dollars the donors gave to his slush funds outside the campaign finance laws. There were plenty of reports that his team singled out wealthy individuals and firms who had business pending before City Hall, knowing they would be more likely to fork over mountains of money to help their businesses or protect them from punishment. It was a two-way street. The money they gave helped de Blasio build his reputation nationally and hire private consultants to deliver his city agenda. Those consultants, his “agents of the city,” made millions without him having to use his own funds to pay them. Most important, the slush funds enabled the mayor to establish a shadow government and wage a permanent campaign for re-election. And now prosecutors have given the sordid scheme their blessing all because they didn’t catch the mayor taking a brown paper bag filled with cash.
Even the NY Times Is Concerned That Pay to Play is Legal Now
Questioning Whether de Blasio Will Learn From a Teachable Moment (NYT) The mayor says the decision by prosecutors not to charge him means he can continue his fund-raising practices as before. Some onlookers in and outside of government aren’t so sure.
New York New York It is Now Legal to Steal Elections More PACS, Lobbyists Both Pay to Play and Dumping PAC Money Into County Committees to Get Aound the Election Law are Now Legal
- NY POST: DE BLAZ SLIMY, NOT CRIMEY...
- DAILY NEWS: 'BARELY LEGAL'...
- GOODWIN: De Blasio Decision a Huge Win for Corrupt Officials Everywhere...
Making County Committee PACs Legal
Mayor de Blasio dodges state, criminal charges infund-raising probe (NYDN) The mayor quickly claimed vindication, even though neither prosecutor declared that de Blasio or his aides followed the letter of the law in the 2013 campaign or the next year’s State Senate race. Vance, in a 10-page letter explaining his decision, acknowledged “the conduct here may have violated the Election Law ... (but) the parties involved cannot be appropriately prosecuted, given their reliance on the advice of counsel.” Essentially, those who participated were led to believe by election lawyer Lawrence Laufer that their fund-raising efforts were legal. The district attorney added that his decision “is not an endorsement of the conduct at issue; indeed, the transactions appear contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws.” The behavior of the mayor and his staff “creates an end run around the direct candidate contribution limits,” wrote Vance. Under fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, federal prosecutors in Manhattan thoroughly investigated incidents where “Mayor de Blasio and others acting on his behalf solicited donations from individuals who sought official favors,” Kim said. Afterward, “the mayor made or directed inquiries to relevant city agencies on behalf of these donors,” the prosecutor added. * Reformers Laud Bharara As a Difference-Maker (The Chief)
Sal Albanese @SalAlbaneseNYC .@errollouis there is a solution 2 ending DEB et al unethical pay 2 play. I look forward to discussing it on your program
The Prosecutors Have Legalized Pay to Play and Corrupt Election PACS Run By Lobbyists to Control Elections
De Blasio Proves That Some Laws Are Made to Be Unbreakable (NYT) Prosecutors said the mayor and his aides had not violated election laws by funneling money to candidates. That may be the real crime.
The decision by federal and state prosecutors not to file criminal charges against de Blasio is a huge victory for him – and for corrupt officials everywhere – and gives a green light to politicians who are willing to abuse the power of incumbency to stay in office, Michael Goodwin writes in the Post.
Daily News Says Lasting Taint True News Says Pay to Play Has Been Legalized by the Prosecutors
Prosecutors Cleaning Up de Blasio Pieces Seabrook Next to Plea? No Trials That Could Expose the Prosecutors Cover-Up?
Brooklyn NYPD Bribery Scheme Said to Be Even More Widespread (NYT)
Brooklyn man gets 32 months in prison for bribing copsto snag quick gun permits (NYDN) The man who copped to bribing NYPD officers for quick gun permits will spend 32 months in a federal lockup and two years on supervised release, a judge decided on Thursday. Alex Lichtenstein, 45, pleaded guilty on Nov. 10 to charges of offering a bribe and bribery for participating in a corruption scheme spanning from 2013 to 2016. While Lichtenstein and his lawyer had brokered a plea deal with prosecutors, the feds recently pushed for the Brooklyn bizman to get the max under their agreement - six years. Prosecutors argued that Lichtenstein - who submitted photos of himself alongside cops in his bid for sentencing leniency - didn't understand the gravity of his crime.* Judge goes easy on Shomrim leader who bribed cops forgun permits (NYP) The Shomrim patrol leader who bribed NYPD cops to “expedite” gun permits got a lighter jail sentence than federal prosecutors wanted Thursday — because he has a history of community service. Judge Sidney Stein sentenced Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein to 32 months in jail and ordered him to pay a $20,000 fine and undergo alcohol addiction treatment as penance for bribing cops. Prosecutors wanted him to go away for 4 to 6 years, but the judge cited Lichtenstein’s charitable works in giving him a lower-than-expected sentence. “Mr. Lichtenstein has led a life of great deeds,” Stein said. “He has also committed a great crime.” “You participated in corrupting the New York City police department,” he told Lichtenstein, who cried when he did not receive the probation sentence he was hoping for. Lichtenstein was found guilty in April of paying favors to officers in the Licensing Division for quick pistol permits that he he then sold to members of the Borough Park ultra-orthodox community for as much as $18,000 a pop. He also admitted to offering a whistle-blowing cop $6,000 per permit to keep his mouth shut and help with the scheme. Investigators recovered a trove of audio tapes Lichtenstein made while he cut deals with cops — recordings meant to ensure the oft-drunk Lichtenstein could recall specific details in the deals, sources say. Prosecutors say the recordings connect Lichtenstein to a separate investigation into a high-ranking NYPD official who allegedly traded favors with two of Mayor de Blasio’s financial backers. According to tapes, Lichtenstein met with NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant, who stands accused of accepting bribes from big-time de Blasio donors Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz in exchange for preferential treatment. City and federal prosecutors declined on Thursday to charge de Blasio or his aides in the scandal. Lichtenstein, who admitted to two counts of bribery during a November plea deal, said he will not be cooperate with investigators.* A member of a neighborhood watch group in Brooklyn admitted to bribing NYPD officers and handing out cash and gifts to others, suggesting that a major federal investigation into corruption within the police department is still turning up new evidence of misconduct, the Times reports.