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De Blasio's Nonprofit Will Comply With Ethics Panel Subpoena

By Jeff Mays | October 6, 2016 11:08pm
 Mayor Bill de Blasio said his political nonprofit will comply with a subpoena from the New York State Joint Commision on Public Ethics but he believes the state panel is on a
Mayor Bill de Blasio said his political nonprofit will comply with a subpoena from the New York State Joint Commision on Public Ethics but he believes the state panel is on a "fishing expedition" and "beyond" its jurisdiction."
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DNAinfo/Jeff Mays

MANHATTAN VALLEY — Mayor Bill de Blasio said his political nonprofit will finally comply with a subpoena from the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics, but he believes the state panel is on a "fishing expedition" and "beyond its jurisdiction."

The Campaign for One New York nonprofit had previously complied with subpoenas from JCOPE as part of the group's 2015 investigation into whether it should have registered as a lobbyist.

But the group abruptly stopped complying in May, saying the state ethics panel had overreached its boundaries and was acting out of a political vendetta against the mayor.

De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who appoints six JCOPE members and its chairman, have been in a long-running public feud.

A state judge ordered de Blasio and the Campaign for One New York to comply with the subpoena, saying that JCOPE had full authority to request the documents that included communications between the nonprofit and the mayor's office that the mayor's lawyers said were protected by attorney-client privilege.

The mayor said last month that he was considering appealing the ruling. The New York Times reported Tuesday that JCOPE had issued another wide-ranging subpoena looking for communications between the mayor, his aides, the nonprofit, and its consultants and donors.

"Neither I nor they believe that JCOPE is following through on its specific jurisdiction, its specific mandate here," de Blasio said at a press conference at a Manhattan Valley senior center. "JCOPE is on a fishing expedition and is working well beyond their jurisdiction."

Multiple federal and state authorities are investigating whether donors to the Campaign for One New York received anything in return for their donations.

Emma Wolfe, one of the mayor's top aides, and Ross Offinger, de Blasio's chief fundraiser, have both been subpoenaed along with BerlinRosen, the consulting firm owned by Jonathan Rosen, one of the mayor's closest advisers.

De Blasio also distanced himself from the Campaign for One New York Thursday, telling reporters inquiring about the subpoenas that he was not familiar with the details.

"What I'm hearing is that the lawyers representing the Campaign for One New York will respond to the subpoena while maintaining our continued view that JCOPE is on a fishing expedition and is outside its jurisdiction," said the mayor.

"Campaign for One New York is its own entity. You're going to have to ask them. I have not seen the subpoena," he added.

Bill Hyers, de Blasio's former campaign manager and top adviser, is listed as the chairman for the Campaign for One New York.

Firms owned by the mayor's top advisers such as Rosen and John Del Cecato — a partner at AKPD Message and Media, the firm that created the mayor's 2013 campaign ad featuring de Blasio's son, Dante — have received millions of dollars in fees from the nonprofit.

Top de Blasio advisers such as Rebecca Katz easily moved between working at City Hall and working for entities associated with the Campaign for One New York or firms managing its operations.

De Blasio continued to deny any wrongdoing.

"I am very comfortable with every passing week, I have become more and more convinced we did everything right. We went out of our way to be open and disclosing of what we were doing. We sought legal guidance at every turn," the mayor said.

Investigations are now an "inevitable" part of public life, the mayor insisted. He cited Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as an example.

"The next president of the United States has gone through more investigations than I can count," said de Blasio. "I would remind you go to the end of the road on all those investigations you will find positively nothing — and she's about to be the next president of the United States."