View Full Version : Explosive emails show ‘corrupt’ de Blasio donors had run of City Hall

The Bobster
08-04-2017, 06:27 PM

De Blasio donor charged with corruption asked for seat on ‘corruption’ committee
By Yoav Gonen and Rich Calder
August 4, 2017 | 7:25pm

The door at City Hall was wide open for two big donors to Mayor de Blasio who were charged with corruption — and one even had the nerve to request appointment to the mayor’s Commission to Combat Police Corruption, according to explosive e-mails released Friday.

(((Jona Rechnitz))), who pleaded guilty in March to corruption, felt so entitled four months into the administration that he made a startling request of the mayor on April 28, 2014:

“I am interested in serving on your committee for `combat police corruption,'” he wrote.

Hizzoner forwarded the request with comments to top aide Avi Fink, who sent it on with his own comments to other officials — including City Hall’s director of appointments at the time.

It’s not clear what the mayor or Fink wrote because their comments were redacted by City Hall lawyers.

Rechnitz was not appointed to the post.

But the emails released late Friday in response to a Freedom of Information request contradict the mayor’s repeated assertions that campaign donors don’t get special treatment.

They also call into question his claim that he barely knew the two tainted donors.

“It’s not a particularly close relationship,’’ de Blasio told “Meet the Press” in April 2016. “I met them first around the time of the general election. I hadn’t known them previously, really haven’t seen them in the last year or more. They supported the effort.”

The emails tell a different story.

On April 1, 2014, Rechnitz emialed the mayor to recommend a pal as Buildings Commissioner — an offer Hizzoner eagerly accepted.

“I’m all ears, Jona. We’ve actually been looking for additional candidates. I’ve cc’ed my chief of staff laura santucci. Pls send the info to her as well. Thanks,” de Blasio responded in just over an hour.

In November 2014, when Rechnitz asked the mayor’s office for help with violations he got on a building run as an illegal hotel, a top mayoral aide arranged a meeting at City Hall.

Rechnitz donated $50,000 to de Blasio’s now-shuttered Campaign for One New York political non-profit, and he and his wife also gave de Blasio $9,900 for his 2013 mayoral campaign, the maximum allowed.

Rechnitz also kicked in $102,300 toward a failed effort, spearheaded by the mayor, to help Democrats win control of the state Senate in 2014.

His communications with City Hall show he expected that financial support to mean something.

When an event manager told Rechnitz he couldn’t bring a guest to a 2014 summer barbecue at Gracie Mansion, the peeved donor cc’d Ross Offinger — lead fundraiser for the mayor’s 2013 campaign and the Campaign for One New York.

“Then count me out,” huffed Rechnitz.

His associate, (((Jeremy Reichberg))), donated the maximum $4,950 to de Blasio’s campaign and bundled another $41,650.

Reichberg, who faces charges of bribing cops, also had an inside edge at City Hall, according to the emails.

In October 2014, he contacted mayoral aide Hayley Prim about problems getting city approval for a tax break on one of his buildings — saying he was “directed to” address her directly. They exchanged emails over two months on the issue, although she eventually suggested she couldn’t help him.

Reichberg also asked City Hall to intervene to lower a $650,000 water bill on a building he owned in Borough Park — with the matter addressed directly to the first deputy mayor’s chief of staff.

Separate lawyers for Rechnitz and Reichberg declined comment.

City Hall spokesman Eric Phillips said many people who haven’t donated to the mayor’s causes have gotten high-level access to him.

“These two people at times voice the concerns of their community. It’s City Hall’s responsibility to have communication with people like that,” said Phillips. “At the end of the day, they asked for things large and small from city government and didn’t get them.”