Crime & Mayhem


De Blasio Questioned by Manhattan District Attorney Amid Fundraising Probe

January 25, 2017 11:00am | Updated January 25, 2017 12:21pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he met with the Manhattan District Attorney's office which is conducting a probe into his fundraising activities, during a press conference at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues on Jan. 25, 2017.
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DNAinfo/Alexandra Leon

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Mayor Bill de Blasio met with the Manhattan District Attorney's office, which is conducting a probe into his fundraising activities, he revealed Wednesday.

"The Manhattan DA's office asked for an interview and we did an interview," de Blasio told reporters Wednesday at an unrelated press conference in Downtown Brooklyn.

De Blasio, who said he has not been called before a grand jury, said his meeting with the Manhattan DA's office was a "few weeks back" and was attended by "me and my lawyers."

►READ MORE: Here's What We Know About the Probe Into Mayor Bill de Blasio's Fundraising

The mayor is being investigated for whether his fundraising efforts to help elect a Democratic majority in the state Senate violated campaign finance laws.

The investigation launched after the state Board of Elections accused de Blasio and his team, including top aide Emma Wolfe, of purposely violating election law by routing donations to three upstate senate candidates using county committees to avoid donation limits.

Asked for details on the specifics of the meeting, the mayor declined.

"I'm not going to characterize it. It was fine," said de Blasio. "I'm not going into any details. Lawyers can fill in for you."

De Blasio lawyer Barry Berke was traveling and not immediately available for comment, according to his staff. De Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan referred questions to City Hall.

De Blasio press secretary Eric Phillips said the meeting occurred in late December.

"It was a voluntary discussion," Phillips said, declining further comment.

Joan Vollero, communications director for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, declined comment.

"We do not comment on or confirm meetings with attorneys," Vollero said.

The mayor and his lawyers have said the investigation is politically motivated after the leak of a January 2016 memo from Risa Sugarman, the state Board of Elections' chief enforcement counsel. Sugarman said the alleged violations were "willful and flagrant" and warranted "criminal prosecution."

►READ MORE: Leaked Memo Calling My Fundraising Criminal Is Political Ploy: De Blasio

De Blasio is also facing a federal probe into fundraising for his political nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is investigating whether donors to the nonprofit received anything in return for their donations.

The nonprofit lies outside of city campaign finance rules and was able to accept unlimited amounts of money from firms and individuals who had business before the city.

►READ MORE: Shady de Blasio Fundraiser Asked City Hall for Hotel Rezoning Help: Sources

The investigations are costing city taxpayers millions of dollars. The city filed a $10 million contract with the firm Debevoise & Plimpton for 2016 and 2017. And at least $6 million is in the fiscal year 2018 budget for outside counsel, though its unclear exactly how much is related to the fundraising probes.

De Blasio said that city tax money would only be used to defend city employees in work they did for the city government.

The mayor has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.