Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney SDNY
At least five investigations are underway concerning corruption in or around New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration. So far, the investigations have revealed that two members of the mayor’s inaugural committee gave lavish gifts to top NYPD brass in exchange for favors, including the opportunity to hang around in police circles and get speedy access to gun permits. A lobbyist with close ties to de Blasio was involved in a shady real estate deal that leveraged city approval to make millions for inside investors. Next, it emerged that the mayor’s closest advisors had asked major donors to funnel money through county political committees to Democratic candidates for state senate in 2014. This kind of fundraising is against the law if the donations are coordinated. Investigators are also looking into coordination between the mayor’s 2013 campaign, his political nonprofit organization the Campaign for One New York, and the operations of anti-horse-carriage group NYCLASS, which was organized as an independent campaign group. Finally, authorities are examining allegations that “straw donors” contributed large sums to de Blasio’s mayoral campaign.
A range of entities are investigating these overlapping charges, including the office of Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance; the New York State Board of Elections; New York State’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE); and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, among others. In sum, every law enforcement agency with oversight over New York City government is asserting shared jurisdiction and examining some piece of what is shaping up to be one of the largest municipal political scandals in history.
In response, Mayor de Blasio has taken a page from his former boss Hillary Clinton’s playbook and claimed that the whole thing is a frame-up orchestrated by his political enemies. [. . .] The implication is that Governor Andrew Cuomo—a fellow Democrat but otherwise no friend of de Blasio’s—is directing JCOPE’s probe. JCOPE is a legally constituted state commission empowered to investigate matters pertaining to ethics and lobbying; no provision exists by which officials can opt out of its investigations. And the idea that Bharara is taking his marching orders from Albany is ludicrous: there is every reason to assume that Cuomo himself may be in Bharara’s sights.
De Blasio suggests that he has been targeted on ideological grounds, because he has spoken so much truth to power. [. . .] Going further to burnish his revolutionary credentials and solidify his support among African-American voters, de Blasio praised the election of Sadiq Khan (“this ray of light”) as mayor of London. “A lot of people in this room have studied history and know something about colonialism and imperialism,” he said. “How wonderful—yes, a bit ironic—but more important a statement of progress that the place that used to be the capital of colonialism has elected a Muslim man as its mayor.”
In radio interviews, de Blasio has complained about unfair double standards. [. . .] a lot of people are doing a lot worse and not getting much examination.”
[. . .]
Perhaps trying to rally progressives and divert attention from his proliferating scandals, de Blasio renewed calls for a boycott of fast-food restaurant Chick-Fil-A, whose owner reportedly opposes same-sex marriage. [. . .] Several Chick-Fil-A franchises operate in Manhattan, and more are scheduled to open; protests were originally organized against the restaurant in New York City in 2012, prior to its expansion here.
[. . .]
As investigations and allegations of the mayor’s corruption continue to mount, expect him to continue blaming others, making vainglorious noises about his commitment to righteousness, and practicing clumsy legerdemain to divert attention from his problems. It has always been clear that de Blasio is not an effective manager of the city; what’s also becoming apparent is that he is not even good at managing his own image.
Deflecting with De Blasio
The progressive New York City mayor tries to draw attention away from his administration’s mounting scandals.
May 9, 2016
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This was how the mayor welcomed them on Monday: “I’m certainly not going to patronize them and I wouldn’t urge any other New Yorker to patronize them.”
Chick-Fil-A will survive. But as long as de Blasio’s trashing eateries in order to stroke special interests — common sense be damned — why won’t he take on other restaurants which might offend certain ethnic and gender sensitivities?
Italian-American joints often hang photos of Italian mobster-playing actors such as Marlon Brando and James Gandolfini, and even of real-life murderer John Gotti. The stereotype-promoting pictures at Capri on Mulberry Street left this Italian-American mortally wounded. The attitude of the mayor, my fellow paisano? Omerta.
You’d at least think a restaurant which posed a clear and present danger to public safety might draw his ire. But when the Carnegie Deli reopened recently after a 10-month shutdown, he cheerily tweeted a celebratory photo of a pastrami sandwich.
Never mind that Carnegie Deli was closed by city officials for illegally siphoning gas — the same kind of stunt which blew up an East Village building last year, killing two people and injuring 19.
But de Blasio prefers to pick and choose only those eatery beefs that satisfy his appetite for sucking up.
De Blasio’s Chick-Fil-A boycott is a clucking travesty
By Steve Cuozzo
May 8, 2016 | 11:21am
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De Blasio says ethics probe is a witch hunt led by Cuomo
By Yoav Gonen, Kirstan Conley and Danika Fears
New York Post
May 6, 2016 | 7:32pm