Acting US Attorney clears de Blasio in fundraising probe

Posted March 26, 2017

Bill De Blasio hosts a press conference in New York City.

"In response to allegations of misconduct, this Office, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has been investigating fundraising by and on behalf of Mayor Bill de Blasio for his 2013 election campaign, the Campaign for One New York, and the 2014 State Senate effort".

Vance's team found that the mayor's director of intergovernmental affairs, Emma Wolfe, and state Democratic campaign strategist Neal Kwatra, among others, ran their plan past Laurence Laufer, de Blasio's 2013 campaign lawyer.

Joon Kim, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, sent a statement to the press this morning announcing that the office would not file charges against the liberal Democratic mayor or his aides for a potential pay-to-play scheme involving de Blasio's defunct political nonprofit the Campaign for One New York.

"We believe it appropriate in this case at this time", Kim said, "in order not to unduly influence the upcoming campaign and Mayoral election".

The mayor's team coordinated six-figure donations totaling almost $1 million to county Democratic committees, which could pass through larger donations to candidates than they could receive directly from donors.

"From the beginning - it's basically a year - I've been saying we acted appropriately", de Blasio said in an interview on WNYC radio. But he said it did not appear to be "a provable violation" of the law.

"This simply confirmed what I've been saying all along and I was obviously pleased to see the issue closed", de Blasio told reporters at City Hall. Vance recommended detailed guidance from the state Board of Elections on what is permissible and the passage of laws to ban the blatant circumvention of campaign finance limits. De Blasio refused to answer Lehrer's questions on whether he thought Bharara was more of a hawk on prosecuting him that Kim was, or why he thought the investigation might have dragged on as long as it did. "What matters is the fact that this was extensively investigated for a year, and no charges have been brought".

In 2014, Democrats and Republicans were in a heated battle for control of the narrowly divided state Senate, and de Blasio sought to help Democrats regain a majority they had lost in 2010 to help boost his agenda in Albany. In a 10-page letter to the Board of Elections enforcement counsel Risa Sugarman, who made the original referral for criminal prosecution in the senate fundraising case, Vance wrote, "After an extensive investigation, notwithstanding the BOE's view that the conduct here may have violated the Election Law, this office has determined that the parties involved can not be appropriately prosecuted, given their reliance on the advice of counsel". Aides cajoled funds from businesses with issues before the city and directed them to obscure county committees as a way to get around strict limits on individual donations.