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No Immunity For De Blasio in Interrogation With Prosecutors, City Hall Says

By Jeff Mays | February 10, 2017 4:44pm
 Mayor Bill de Blasio was not granted immunity before speaking with federal and state prosecutors investigating his fundraising activities, according to his press secretary.
Mayor Bill de Blasio was not granted immunity before speaking with federal and state prosecutors investigating his fundraising activities, according to his press secretary.
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DNAinfo/Jeff Mays

THE BRONX — Mayor Bill de Blasio was not granted immunity before speaking with federal and state prosecutors investigating his fundraising activities, according to his press secretary.

In an e-mail titled "Fact Sheet" sent to reporters Friday before the mayor's once weekly press conference where he takes any question from the City Hall press corps, de Blasio Press Secretary Eric Phillips laid out what he called a "detailed rundown" of the issues surrounding the investigations.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is investigating whether donors to de Blasio's now-defunct political nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York, received anything in return for their donations.

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

The nonprofit operated 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. The City Council has since passed laws governing donations to such nonprofits.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. is investigating whether de Blasio's fundraising efforts to help elect a Democratic majority in the state Senate violated campaign finance laws.

In recent weeks de Blasio acknowledged that he and his lawyers had sat with prosecutors from Vance's office and was scheduled in the coming weeks to sit down with Bharara's office.

But the mayor has been vague in giving out other details, declining to say whether he had received immunity and how he planned to pay for his legal defense.

► READ MORE: De Blasio Questioned by Manhattan District Attorney Amid Fundraising Probe

"The mayor did not request and was not offered immunity in exchange for participating in these discussions," Phillips wrote in the e-mail.

De Blasio has denied any wrongdoing.

Phillips also repeated de Blasio's assertion from last week that no taxpayer money will be used to defend him in either probe although the city has already given out $11.6 million in legal contracts to hire attorneys for city employees who will be questioned or called to testify.

Two grand juries are currently examining the mayor's fundraising.

"No taxpayer dollars will be used to fund the mayor’s individual compliance with these reviews. The mayor’s lawyers will be paid with outside funds from an account that has yet to be established or funded. More information will be released concerning these payments once any relevant accounts are formed," Phillps wrote.

► READ MORE: De Blasio Won't Use Taxpayer Money for His Legal Defense, He Says

At an unrelated press conference in The Bronx Friday afternoon, de Blasio said he would have to use a "legal defense fund model" to pay his lawyer Barry Berke of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP.

The firm has not been paid yet, said the mayor.

"They have sent bills. They will be paid. It's going to take a while," he said.

De Blasio is questioned about the probe during every press conference in which he takes "off topic" questions or questions on issues other than the topic of the press conference.

Phillps said the disclosures in the e-mail represent all that the mayor, who is running for re-election this year, will have to say on the issue.

"This is the extent to which the Mayor will discuss his, or his Administration’s, cooperation with this process," Phillips wrote. "The Administration has released all it will provide at this time concerning these voluntarily meetings."

De Blasio defended the stance, saying he would tell reporters when he met with federal prosecutors.

A reporter told the mayor that the press would continue to ask about the probes.

"You can try but its not going to be productive," the mayor responded.