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De Blasio Says Public Not Concerned With Ongoing Investigations

By Jeff Mays | June 2, 2016 5:12pm
 Mayor Bill de Blasio said the public doesn't care about the various federal and state probes swirling around the NYPD and his fundraising activities or his long-running beef with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the public doesn't care about the various federal and state probes swirling around the NYPD and his fundraising activities or his long-running beef with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

ONE POLICE PLAZA — Mayor Bill de Blasio said the public doesn't care about the various federal and state probes swirling around the NYPD and his fundraising activities or his long-running beef with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

De Blasio said he remains focused on issues like lowering crime in spite of the scandals surrounding his administration.

"What matters is getting results for people and I think the the public is very smart," de Blasio said during a Thursday press conference in which NYPD officials announced there had been less shooting and murders this year than during this time last year. "I've said, 'do not underestimate the public. They are very smart in discerning the truth'."

The mayor is facing multiple investigations. There is a federal investigation into whether donors to the Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit the mayor started to advance his political agenda, received favors in exchange for their contributions.

Also being probed is whether de Blasio's effort to win control of the state Senate violated campaign finance and election laws.

In addition, authorities are looking into straw donors in the mayor's campaign and examining why the city lifted deed restrictions on multiple properties for individuals who donated to the mayor's nonprofit or his effort to win back the Senate.

Authorities are also investigating cash, gifts and international trips that two businessmen may have provided to high-ranking NYPD officers.

Several NYPD officers so far have been stripped of their guns and badges or placed on modified duty and several of them have filed for retirement.

De Blasio also defended his handling of that probe.

"It's perfectly appropriate the way things are being handled. There's been a vigorous investigation that obviously yielded some real problems. Those individuals are already feeling the consequences and I wouldn't be surprised if they feel a lot more," de Blasio said, adding that the officers have a right to retire.

But the public should be focused on the declining crime numbers, the mayor said.

"The results speak for themselves. Of course people are going to be disappointed when they see their colleagues do the wrong thing. But when you look at what has happened in the month of May, the NYPD is achieving extraordinary things," he added.

NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill had a slightly different take, saying the investigation does take some toll on officers.

"Any time that the NYPD is put in a negative light of course that's going to have an effect on the men and women of this police department because of the great work," they do, said O'Neill. "Does it have an impact on morale? I'm sure it does."

Recent polls also show concern from the public about the investigations. A Quinnipiac University poll found that 86 percent of voters felt that corruption was a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem in the city.

Fifty-three percent of voters also disapprove of the way de Blasio is handling corruption.

"I have seen polls go up and down. If I lived by polls I wouldn't be sitting here," the mayor said about his rise from fifth place to Democratic nominee for mayor in 2013.

"When all the facts come out, I'm confident that it will confirm things were done the right way," the mayor added.

"Meantime, what I focus on is what we call the day job....How we are going to keep lowering crime, how we're going to create more affordable housing, what we're doing to improve our schools. That's where the focus is. The truth is a very comforting thing," de Blasio said.

His long-running beef with Cuomo also isn't of that much concern to the general public, the mayor said.

"I think it's very interesting to you guys," de Blasio said to the gathered media. "I think it's very interesting to people in the political class. I think it's thoroughly uninteresting to everyday New Yorkers who want to know, are we driving down crime? are we improving schools? are we helping to get affordable housing?"

The investigations also aren't affecting his family, the mayor said.

"My son just finished his first year of college. My daughter is about to graduate which is going to be an incredible moment. Chirlane is doing her work," de Blasio said. "We're all very comfortable with the state of things because we know we've done things right."