Thursday, July 14, 2016


Feds Sampson No McDonnell Bribery You Go To Jail for Obstruction of Justice and Lying to FBI

John Sampson’s bid for a new trial is shot down (NYP) Brooklyn federal prosecutors on Friday shot down convicted ex-state Sen. John Sampson’s bid for a new trial, saying a recent Supreme Court decision clearing a different politician does not apply in his case. Sampson filed a motion seeking another trial citing the high court’s decision overturning the bribery conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. But prosecutors argued Sampson wasn’t convicted of bribery, so the McDonnell ruling isn’t relevant. Sampson was found guilty of obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI as part of a mortgage-fraud investigation.

de Blasio Bigger Crook Than Cuomo New Poll Numbers
 Cuomo gets higher approval rating than de Blasio, poll shows (NYDN)Though both their administrations are under investigation, the spate of bad headlines thus far seems to have taken a more serious toll on Mayor de Blasio’s political standing than that of Gov. Cuomo. A Siena College poll in late May found de Blasio's personal approval rating at just 44% in New York City while 50% view him unfavorably. For Cuomo, a Siena poll last week found his personal approval rating in the city has hit 70% with just 25% having an unfavorable view of him.  Statewide, Cuomo’s personal approval is at 56%, its highest mark since April 2015. For de Blasio, just 34% of New Yorkers statewide in May viewed him favorably.* Cuomo plans to take executive action to implement emergency rules cracking down on bad-actor day care providers, an unusual move in response to Mayor Bill de Blasio killing a bill that would have done the same thing, the Daily News writes. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating an off-duty police officer's fatal shooting of a man who apparently attacked him during a case of road rage, after a confrontation broke out in East New York, the Associated Press reports. * * Though both administrations are under investigation, the bad headlines seem to have taken a more serious toll on de Blasio’s political standing than Cuomo’s, with governing style and media coverage playing a role, the Daily News writes.* 'WHERE'S THE COMPASSION?' Minority officers rip NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton for allowing corruption-scandal cops to collect their pensions (NYDN)

At Least Two de Blasio Spreadsheet Appointments Have Integrity Issues  
Donors got political positions from Mayor de Blasio despite red flags indicating integrity issues (NYDN) When Mayor de Blasio was doling out political appointments to big campaign donors, sometimes it was best to look the other way. Companies owned by two big contributors de Blasio appointed to VIP slots had serious integrity issues before the mayor rewarded them for their money-raising, a Daily News review has found. One coowned a company the city had declared lacked “good character, honesty and integrity,” while the other owed the city $1.2 million in lease payments and fees. Not a problem. The mayor appointed both to several advisory boards. Businesswoman Gina Argento made the list after raising $97,780 for the mayor through bundled checks from friends and employees of her firm, Broadway Stage. And in January 2014, she was first in line to write checks totaling $50,000 for the Campaign for One New York, the fund de Blasio set up to support his causes. Most of Argento’s checks to de Blasio started arriving Oct. 1, 2013 — a month before he was elected and not long after the city Business Integrity Commission found a firm she coowned, Luna Lighting Inc., “lacks good character, honesty and integrity.” In May 2013, the commission rejected Luna’s request for a waste hauling license on two grounds: Luna had paid an $18,000 fine after admitting it repeatedly illegally hauled construction debris and ignored city demands to pay off a $620,000 IRS tax lien. A little over a year later, de Blasio put Argento on his Fund for the Advancement of New York City, a nonprofit run by his wife, Chirlane McCray, that raises private funds for city programs.And he put her on his committee to try to lure the Democratic National Convention to Brooklyn, and the city’s Workforce Investment Board, which advises the city on workforce issues and oversaw a $65.5 million budget in 2014. It’s unclear whether Argento paid the back taxes. She did not return repeat calls seeking comment. Then there’s donor Harendra Singh, a restaurateur who raised $21,425 for de Blasio’s 2013 campaign from friends and family. Singh made the spreadsheet in early 2014 as a candidate for appointment to the Mayor’s Fund advisory board and the DNC committee. But the spreadsheet noted an unspecified “vetting issue” with the phrase “r/flags.” Perhaps the “issue” was this: A May 30, 2014, city audit found one of Singh’s restaurants, Water’s Edge on cityowned land in Queens, owed the city $1.2 million in back rent and late fees. A month later in June 2014, Singh was appointed to the Mayor’s Fund and the DNC committee. He stayed on the fund’s board even after the city sued him in February 2015. Then in September, Singh was indicted by the feds on a number of charges, including $1 million in Hurricane Sandy fraud related to Water’s Edge. Days later, he was removed from the board of the Mayor’s Fund. The mayor declined to discuss his appointment, and Singh’s lawyer, Anthony La Pinta, also declined comment. Singh did not return calls for comment. Singh is a restaurateur who’d bundled $10,425 for de Blasio and raised another $11,000 from his family for the mayor’s 2013 campaign.Michael Goodwin writing in The New York Post: “Corruption comes in all flavors, and size certainly matters. Yet de Blasio’s mayoralty stands apart from recent predecessors’ in that virtually everything he does leads back to personal politics. He has never stopped campaigning because he doesn’t know how, and doesn’t want to learn.”

No Lobbyists Firewall Inside Team Cuomo
Probed lobbyist was a member of Cuomo’s ‘inner circle’ (NYP) Cuomo’s renewed effort to distance himself from lobbyist and longtime associate Todd Howe flies in the face of Howe’s continuous role as a member of Cuomo’s “inner circle,” a source close to US Attorney Preet Bharara’s corruption probe told The Post. “From the start, when Cuomo took office, Todd was part of the inner circle of decision makers. He was basically part of the Cuomo administration,” said the source, who has first-hand knowledge of Bharara’s investigation. “Todd was a coequal to Joe Percoco and Howard Glaser and absolutely seen as the governor’s guy, even though he wasn’t on the state payroll and officially part of the government. “For Cuomo to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.” Percoco, Cuomo’s once-powerful deputy secretary and one of his closest friends, is being investigated by Bharara over money he received from state contractors while running the governor’s re-election campaign in 2014. Glaser is Cuomo’s former state operations director.The Post’s Fred Dicker writes that Cuomo’s renewed effort to distance himself from lobbyist and longtime associate Todd Howe flies in the face of Howe’s continuous role as a member of Cuomo’s “inner circle.” *  Trying to divert attention from probes into his administration, Cuomo’s state agencies have been asked to put together lists of successes that can be touted publicly and a top official convened staff to urge them to stay focused on their work, the Daily News’ Ken Lovett reports.

The multimilliondollar payoff: How New York’s most powerful politicians use the LLC loophole to rake in money hand over fist from many of the state’s most powerful business interests

Andrew Cuomo stood outside his Albany office recently to do one of those seemingly impromptu yet carefully orchestrated press conferences in the hallway. He wanted to talk about eight bills he was introducing — and a gaggle, as opposed to a formal Red Room briefing, let him end it in a flash, with nary a word about the scandals scorching his administration.  He had walked the state to beat the drums for an historic state budget that delivered $15 an hour and paid leave to low-wage workers, but he'd mostly muzzled himself on ethics for months, even as his two onetime legislative partners, the Senate's Dean Skelos and the Assembly's Shelly Silver, were sentenced to a combined 17 years in federal prison. LLCs are a particular form of private company that allows individuals to avoid risk and conceal their ownership. They were legalized in New York in 1994, two years before the loophole decision that let the owner of multiple LLCs make contributions virtually without a cap. They soon evolved into a way for a small pool of wealthy donors, especially many in real estate, to funnel huge amounts to politicians they seek to influence. LLC contributions hit the $20 million a year mark in 2014.   Just days before, Flanagan had consigned a bill killing the loophole introduced annually by Brooklyn Democrat Daniel Squadron to a committee whose chair is recovering from surgery, won't return this session and isn't running for re-election. The GOP's reflexive rejection could not have been a surprise to Cuomo. With the Assembly Democrats having already passed a reform bill, Cuomo's bold-sounding initiative appeared more performance than policy, targeting an audience of one, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the Don Quixote of LLC reform.   To make one of Bharara's earliest Albany corruption cases, the FBI created a shell called Bedrock Capital LLC, whose very name reflected the role these entities now play in our politics. The sham business was then used to contribute and pay bribes to longtime Queens Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio. Bharara's twin-killing Skelos and Silver cases had a single chilling common thread: a mountain of LLC contributions to Skelos by a real estate behemoth, Glenwood Management, whose executives also created a consulting gig for Skelos' now-convicted son, and a hill or two in donations for Silver, who also banked $700,000 in secret legal fees Glenwood steered him for no work.  Bharara, who named Glenwood's owner an unindicted co-conspirator, even made a 54-page list of its $10 million in donations a trial exhibit, a laundering list of compromise that covered 2005 to 2015. Cuomo collected $1.2 million of it.Glenwood's top executive Charles Dorego testified that the company orchestrated this massive political operation to advance its primary interests, including "campaign-finance issues" and noting that the LLC contribution limit was "much higher than the corporate limit." Glenwood was dedicated to maintaining that special status though, as the judge in the Silver case, Valerie Caproni, put it: "I don't care what the Supreme Court says. Companies aren't people. They don't have states of mind."   Flanagan and new speaker Carl Heastie loomed awkwardly large on Bharara's Glenwood Gimme List, collecting sizable downpayments long before they had real power, with the Bronx Democratic Committee that Heastie controlled getting more than most local Democratic depositories, and a mere two-term Flanagan bankrolled in his only competitive race in 2006. Bharara's current corruption probes are also focused on LLC contributors, the one common thread that binds Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio. Cuomo's longtime top aide Joe Percoco is a Bharara target because he and his wife took consulting gigs involving three LLCs that did state business, funneled contributions to the governor's campaign and retained lobbyist Todd Howe, who was until his post-subpoena ban so wired into Cuomo, he simultaneously had offices inside a State University facility and the governor's re-election headquarters.* More than a month after Cuomo announced that Bart Schwartz, a former federal prosecutor, would head an “independent investigation” into the Buffalo Billion, it remains unclear whether Schwartz has begun his work, Gotham Gazette writes.

Nick Reisman ‏@NickReisman Republican state lawmakers Rob Ortt and 
Ray Walter are calling for Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to investigate Buffalo Billion contracting.

Pay to Play Private Police Department
Shady businessman bribed cops to close Lincoln Tunnel lane: feds (NYP) Cops shut down a lane in the Lincoln Tunnel so a visiting businessman could be escorted through it at the behest of a major de Blasio fund-raiser, federal prosecutors charged Monday. The outrageous move was revealed as part of damning criminal indictments unveiled Monday against four NYPD officers and the shady “fixer’’ who allegedly arranged it. The stunning arrests marked the first time cops have been charged in the sweeping 3¹/₂-year corruption investigation rocking the department and Mayor de Blasio’s office, which is being probed for its fund-raising. Federal prosecutors allege that the civilian behind the closure, Borough Park businessman Jeremy Reichberg, and his real-estate-investor pal Jona Rechnitz, spent more than $100,000 on police bribes between 2012 and 2015. “They got, in effect, a private police force for themselves and their friends — effectively they got cops on call,” Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said.

Cops shut down Lincoln Tunnel lane for ‘King of Diamonds (NYP)An Israeli billionaire known as the “King of Diamonds” is the bigshot businessman who allegedly got a police escort through the Lincoln Tunnel in a lane that was closed to other drivers, The Post has learned. Lev Leviev, who is also chairman of the international real-estate firm Africa Israel, received the extraordinary favor that’s part of the feds’ corruption case against two high-ranking cops, sources said Tuesday. Gov. Cuomo ordered that the inspectors general of the state and the Port Authority launch a probe into the allegations, saying: “If this is true, it is deeply troubling.” “The NYPD has no jurisdiction within the tunnels boundaries,” Cuomo said.

Dems vying for Rangel’s seat call on Bratton to resign over scandals (NYP)  * More top NYPD officers under fire for corruption probe (NYP) Several high-ranking NYPD officers and a former chief of department are still in the cross hairs of the feds’ corruption probe. They include Philip Banks, who resigned in late 2014 as chief of department, Brooklyn South Deputy Chief Eric Rodriguez, Deputy Chief David Colon and Deputy Chief John Sprague. Also under scrutiny are Deputy Chief Andrew Capul, who went from second-in-command of Patrol Borough Manhattan North to a desk job at the School Safety Division, and Deputy Chief James McCarthy, second-in-command of Patrol Bureau Manhattan. Former Community Affairs Detective Michael Milici is being eyed, too. He has already been fired for failing to cooperate in the corruption probe.* Another top NYPD official suspected in corruption scandal (NYP) * 3 N.Y.P.D. Commanders Are Arrested in Vast Corruption Case (NYT) The charges detail lavish gifts officials are accused of receiving and stem from one of several continuing investigations into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fund-raising.* Three NYPD commanders have been arrested, along with a Brooklyn businessman, on federal corruption charges linked to one of several continuing investigations into New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign fundraisingThe New York Times writes. * The hedge fund at the center of a scandal involving corruption charges against former Correction Officers Benevolent Association President Norman Seabrook was able to convince a Manhattan judge that it has the cash to repay a $30 million loan, the Post writes.

Bratton reinstates cops tied to corruption probe so they can retire (NYP) Police Commissioner Bill Bratton quietly reinstated two NYPD bosses who had been stripped of their guns and badges over corruption allegations — in a secret deal to get them to retire, The Post has learned. The move — which ensures the high-ranking cops will get highly coveted, official references from the NYPD — came as Bratton is trying to oust all scandal-tainted brass by the end of the month, sources said Tuesday. Deputy Chief John Sprague, whom Bratton tapped last year to head a newly created, internal-investigations unit, was placed on “modified duty” June 1 for refusing to answer questions in front of a federal grand jury.

Seabrook Two Top NYPD Officers Indicted By Feds

Federal Grand Jury Expected to Indict Two Top NYPD Officials Soon: Sources (dnainfo) A federal grand jury is expected to indict two top NYPD officials and their businessman friend on bribery-related charges as early as Friday, DNAinfo New York has learned. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has been presenting evidence against Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, Deputy Inspector James Grant and Brooklyn businessman Jeremy Reichberg since their arrest last month in an alleged pay-for-favors scheme, sources said.*  US Attorney's Office Announces Indictments as Part of Wide-Ranging Probe (NY1)he U.S. attorney’s office announced the indictment of several high-ranking members of the NYPD, a donor to Mayor Bill de Blasio and the former head of the city’s correction officers union. Norman Seabrook is charged with wire fraud after allegedly investing his union’s money in a private investment fund in exchange for a kickback.Murray Huberfeld, the founder of that fund, was also indicted. On top of that, NYPD Deputy Chief Michael Harrington and Deputy Inspector James Grant were charged with wire fraud and receiving bribes from de Blasio donor Jeremy Reichberg.

The two allegedly received gifts in exchange for favorable treatment from the department. Reichberg also faces charges of wire fraud and bribery. The indictments are part of a wide-ranging probe by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara into corruption at One Police Plaza. The investigation is also examining the mayor’s campaign activities. * New charges for cops, businessman at center of NYPD probe (NYP) * Norman Seabrook indicted in alleged union-bilking scheme (NYP) * Stringer: De Blasio’s ‘slush fund’ never should’ve been created (NYP)* NYPD cops James Grant and Michael Harrington, charged last month with accepting favors from prostitutes and other gifts in exchange for police protection, were indicted and face new charges that could mean more prison time if convicted, the New York Post reports.* A grand jury handed down an indictment of former union chief Norman Seabrook for his alleged role in siphoning $20 million from the Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association to invest in a hedge fund that is now being investigated by the FBI, the Post reports.

Watch Out de Blasio Cuomo RICO?
JUST IN: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Hit With Federal RICO Lawsuit For Flint Water Disaster

The Bottom Feeders Running the NYC GOP Still Fighting Each Other
Golden ally issued deceptive robocalls in county chairman race (Booklyn Daily)  A top advisor to state Sen. Martin Golden (R–Bay Ridge) admitted in court on May 9 to sending out deceptive robocalls during last year’s contentious Republican party county chairman contest in an attempt to tip the scales for his boss’s preferred winner. James McClelland, a political adviser to the Brooklyn pol, sent calls to party members ahead of a Sept. 30 convention implying ballots they had previously filled out were not valid and instructing them to toss their votes — called “proxies” in political lingo — and wait for party leaders to send them the “official” ballots. “Please do not sign and return the postcard proxy you recently received in the mail,” McClelland told party members without identifying himself during a Sept. 23 round of robocalls. “Over the next few days, your district leader or representative will contact you personally to have you sign the official proxy. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and service to the Republican party.” It’s the latest revelation in an ongoing power struggle between former party chairman Craig Eaton and Golden that is playing out in court. Eaton-backed former Assemblyman Arnaldo Ferraro beat Golden-backed Ted Ghorra in the Sept. 30 contest after party officials invalidated more than 400 votes for Ghorra.

Both sides claimed victory — going so far as to hold competing meetings where Ferraro and Ghorra both acted as chairman. And Ghorra took Ferraro to court over the 400 tossed votes. But the litigative gambit backfired when McClelland admitted he helped Ghorra obtain the votes through deception. Ferraro attorney Ezra Glaser asked McClelland if the robocall — specifically with the use of the word “official” — was orchestrated to confuse people into believing they had signed an incorrect ballot and should re-sign their names on the “official” one for Ghorra. An erstwhile Golden ally who received three of McClelland’s robocalls believes they were designed to manipulate people, he said. “The whole purpose of that robocall was to convince people that there was something wrong with that proxy,” said former Golden political consultant Gerry O’Brien. “There are no ‘official’ or ‘unofficial proxies.’ There are valid and or invalid — but when you say, ‘Don’t sign that proxy, because there’s something wrong with it — this is the official proxy,’ it’s misleading and it’s fraudulent.” Testimony ended May 10, and now Supreme Court judge Edgar Walker will decide the party’s next boss.
GOP Bottom Feeders And Why the Party is Dying in NY, Tabone Trial

If You Want to Know What is In the Daily News Days Before They Write It
 The Daily News writes that de Blasio’s claim that he is a victim of a politically motivated attack in the federal probe into his campaign funds – instead of just dealing with the problem head on – is an insult to New Yorkers The Post writes that de Blasio’s assertions that he isbeing targeted by political enemies are the ultimate cop-out and sound like the defense put forth by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is awaiting sentencing for his public corruption conviction * The Post’s Bob McManus writes that since the early days in office, de Blasio and his team have proven time and again that they can’t handle the high-pressure world of New York politics:*  As the political upheaval from several investigations into possible wrongdoing swirled around him, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to focus on his policy agenda.

Another Hospital Closing Staff Beth Israel
Beth Israel Hospital set to close soon: Staff The Villager Nurses from Mount Sinai Beth Israel made emergency calls to The Villager on Tuesday. It wasn’t to provide medical care — but rather to let the newspaper know what they say is already a done deal: that the historic hospital will close, and “sooner rather than later.” Official word may come extremely soon, the nurses said. “They are going to make a big announcement before the end of the month,” one of them said. “We anticipate this is coming next week.” *Mount Sinai denies reports it's preparing to close Beth Israel Capital New YorkMount Sinai Health System on Friday evening acknowledged that it was still looking to overhaul Beth Israel Medical Center but denied reports that it was about to close the money-losing East Side facility, saying it was "100% committed to serving the community." Nurses and physicians have been worried for some time that Beth Israel would be closed or dramatically reduced in size, shifting jobs to other parts of the health system. A spokeswoman for Mount Sinai told POLITICO New York that leadership “was working on a plan [to] develop new facilities,” but declined to provide any further comment. Ken Davis, Mount Sinai’s CEO, has previously stated he is looking to rebuild Beth Israel, replacing its aging infrastructure with what could be a smaller facility with fewer in-patient beds.* Lower Manhattan's Last Large Hospital Could Be Shrinking, Despite Denials (Gothamist)  De Blasio was openly critical of the fact that so many hospitals closed when Michael Bloomberg was mayor, and was arrested in 2013, during his mayoral campaign, for protesting the closing of Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn.

Both Governing By Corruption Investigations or By Pay to Play Cuts Out New Yorkers  
Our very costlyseason of scandal: De Blasio, Cuomo and missed opportunities to govern (NYDN) It’s early in this season of scandal, but we’re already paying the price of folly, greed and secrecy. Every hour that leaders spend huddling with lawyers and publicists to concoct explanations, double-check alibis and gather records for investigators is time not doing the work for which we pay them. The mayor, governor and their staffs should be spending every waking minute investing our tax dollars wisely to stimulate the economy, protect the environment, educate the kids and keep our citizens safe. But they’re not. “If someone violated the rules and the policies, then they have to pay the price,” Cuomo told reporters this month, promising no special mercy for his longtime friends. But during the months it will take to sort things out, projects in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and other economically struggling regions will be stalled and perhaps die on the vine. That’s the cost of slippery ethical dealing. Here in the city, Mayor de Blasio’s frenetic fund-raising for several failed state Senate campaigns and for the now-defunct Campaign for One New York has triggered multiple investigations of whether election laws were broken and whether some of the corporations, unions and wealthy donors who funded the mayor’s political projects did so in exchange for favorable government decisions.  Unlike Cuomo, who has adopted a go-where-the-facts-take-us attitude, de Blasio has unwisely chosen to stall and stonewall. Hizzoner is refusing to cooperate with state ethics investigators and has concocted a fictional legal status of “agent of the city” that supposedly exempts him from Freedom of Information laws that require an explanation of how, when and why some of his outside consultants communicated with the mayor about city business.  NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has deemed several of his unpaid, outside consultants – Jonathan Rosen, Nicholas Baldick, Bill Hyers, John Del Cecato and Patrick Gaspard – “agents of the city,” defending his decision not to release his email exchanges with them in response to a FOIL request.  New York City Mayor Averts Disclosure by Naming Special Advisers (WSJ) Bill de Blasio gives title ‘agent of the city’ to five longtime allies

FBI Investigating Secret Recording Showed How Leaders of NYCLASS Bought de Blasio and Others
FBI Examining Secret Recording Of NYCLASS Meeting As Part Of Probe Into Bill de Blasio’s Fundraising (WCBS TV) The FBI is examining a secret recording as part of its investigation of an animal rights group’s relationship with Mayor Bill de Blasio.  The recording is being used by the FBI to determine whether the group was able to influence the mayor’s decisions by donating money to his campaign.  Back on May 19, 2011, horse carriage driver Christina Hansen infiltrated – and recorded – a meeting of New Yorkers for Clean, Liveable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) at Stitch bar on West 37th Street “I was stunned,” Hansen said. “I was worried.”  NYCLASS has been trying to eliminate horse-drawn carriages in New York City and replace them with electric cars. What Hansen saw and heard astonished her, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

“Buying politicians is the name of the game,” NYCLASS member David Karopkin is heard to say on the recording. “That’s right.” There were about 20 NYCLASS members at the intimate meeting as the group plotted to use its money and clout to get the city to ban horse carriages, Kramer reported.  The tapes have been turned over to the FBI, which recently issued subpoenas to two NYCLASS executives as part of a wide-ranging probe into the fundraising activities of Mayor de Blasio and whether promises were made in exchange for donations. The strategy discussed by the anti-horse carriage group at the meeting was simple: Convince then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to support a ban, or they would run a big bucks campaign against her when she ran for mayor in 2013, and then support someone else. “If this doesn’t happen within the next year, we are in total and absolute war with her. It’s a war,” Steve Nislick of NYCLASS said on the recording. “Remember, we have de Blasio on our side, we have [then-Manhattan Borough President Scott] Stringer on our side, we have [former New York City Comptroller] Bill Thompson.  Quinn refused to shut down the industry. The group spent close to $1 million on “Anybody but Quinn” campaign. They ran ads and infiltrated some of her rallies. George Capsis, a de Blasio supporter, slapped State Senator Brad Hoylman at a Quinn rally weeks before the primary. Also present at the time: NYCLASS members. At the meeting that Hansen recorded, the NYCLASS people foreshadowed their tactics if Quinn didn’t fall in line. “If not, we’ll start a food fight,” Nislick said on the recording. At an earlier meeting, NYCLASS members also talked about the advantages of getting the 211 horse carriage operators to vacate their West Side stables “They occupy thousands and thousands of square feet of space,” Nislick says on the recording. “We need 68 cars. We need far less space. They free up a lot of real estate.” Hansen said she couldn’t believe what she heard. nsen said she couldn’t believe what she heard. “The fact that anyone would go around talking blatantly about that, pretty much, in so many words, buy the next mayor,” Hansen told Kramer. “I didn’t think that politics worked that way. It’s not supposed to work that way.” At an earlier meeting, NYCLASS members also talked about the advantages of getting the 211 horse carriage operators to vacate their West Side stables  “They occupy thousands and thousands of square feet of space,” Nislick says on the recording. “We need 68 cars. We need far less space. They free up a lot of real estate.” The Mayor’s office said de Blasio has never changed his position on horse carriages  “The mayor’s position on the issue has been consistent and clear,” said Peter Kadushin, a spokesman for de Blasio. “Carriage horses don’t belong on busy city streets   Kadushin pointed out that de Blasio called for a horse carriage ban while still public advocate

What is Next de Blasio the Rat Did It At Least He Would Be Right About the Rat
 Only fitting de Blasio could be taken down by trash bags (NYP) *  As The Post first reported, the seller, Joseph Dussich, tried for nearly a decade to get the city to buy his Mint-X bags, which he says deter rats and squirrels. But he got the brush-off — until he contributed $100,000 to the Campaign for One New York, a slush fund de Blasio created. Presto, Dussich got a meeting with the mayor, a trial contract for $15,000, and then, through a middleman, a deal worth nearly $6 million. The sequence is shocking — and consistent with that of so many large donations under scrutiny. Even the names of his slush funds — the Campaign for One New York, The Progressive Agenda Committee and United for Affordable Housing — reflect a profound cynicism. Their names suggest the exact opposite of what they actually do.The affront is compounded by de Blasio’s sinister claim that he is the victim of political investigations. “How convenient that when we’re doing a lot of work to help everyday people, there’s all sorts of efforts being made to obscure that work,” he insisted.

NYP Copies True News On How de Blasio Learned to Go Around the Election Law Limits and Just About Everything Else 

True News Posted in 2015
The mastermind behind de Blasio’s shady finances (NYP) An influential labor-union lawyer has guided Mayor de Blasio’s efforts to raise abundant political cash amid the labyrinth of city and state campaign-finance laws. Longtime de Blasio pal Kevin Finnegan — a former political director of the powerful SEIU 1199 hospital-workers union — found ways for labor groups to funnel cash to de Blasio’s campaigns and causes in amounts above legal spending limits, said a source familiar with the mayor’s campaign practices. It’s an open question whether Finnegan’s ideas led de Blasio afoul of the law. The mayor and some aides are now at the center of investigations into their fund-raising practices. “Finnegan knew what de Blasio wanted to do, and he came up with the structure to do it,” one source said. “He was, in effect, de Blasio’s lawyer, architect and banker.” “Their goal was to win elections. They knew where they wanted to get the money from, and they figured out a way to get labor-union money to his campaigns.”  As general counsel of the Working Families Party, Finnegan oversaw the creation of the consulting firm Data Field Services in February 2007, according to state corporation records and court fillings.  When de Blasio ran in 2009 as a WFP-backed candidate for public advocate, his campaign paid $68,000 for Data Field Services’ canvassing and phone-banking services. Investigators suspected that the firm’s work for de Blasio cost more than $68,000, and that it was indirectly funded by WFP and labor largesse.  WFP pumped $560,000 into the firm’s coffers, state campaign records show. That money may have allowed the firm to reduce its consulting rates to de Blasio.

The Feds Have A Rat Rechnitz Spilling the Beans on the Putnam Senate Laundry
Correction Union Head Arrested on Fraud Charges in Federal Corruption Probe (DNAINFO) "I feel like a million dollars" after his arraignment Wednesday afternoon *  Seabrook arrest has city and police officials terrified (NYP) * U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s biggest prosecuting successes (NYDN)  The Norman conquest: Kickbacks bring down Rikers union chief (NYDN Ed) Rechnitz produced $200,000 for the mayor and his causes, despite campaign finance rules limiting donors to just $4,950 a candidate. De Blasio made it easy for him. During his mayoral campaign, disclosure documents say that Rechnitz collected nearly $42,000 from nine associates to deposit in de Blasio’s political pot. He and his wife gave their maximum $9,900. The mayor-elect rewarded Rechnitz with a spot on his ceremonial inaugural committee — and then kept looking for even greater sums of money by creating a non-profit called the Campaign for One New York. There being no limits on donations to such an organization, Rechnitz promptly gave $50,000. Later in 2014, he heeded the mayor’s call to fund the Democratic takeover of the state Senate, contributing the maximum $102,300 to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.* * The criminal complaint against Norman Seabrook, the head of the New York City corrections officers union, alleges that he steered $20 million of union funds to a risky hedge fund in exchange for $60,000 for himself, The New York Times reports.  * The Times writes that the city’s corrections union has long wielded “an unhealthy” level of control, and the arrest of its leader has brought on a new phase in efforts to root out corruption and violence at Rikers Island. * The Daily News writes that the complaint against Seabrook and an investment manager highlight the “corrosiveness” of de Blasio’s invitation to pour cash into his campaign and causes beyond previously adhered to limits.* New York mayor strives to stay the course as probe queries persist

Now de Blasio Slams Silver As A Bad Apple in 2015 "Man of Integrity"
De Blasio slams ‘bad apples’ Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos (NYP)  * NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio trashed crooked ex-pols Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos as “bad apples” who got what they deserved in a WABC radio interview, while downplaying the multiple probes facing him and predicting he’ll be re-elected next year.* Dean Skelos Sports Complex removes references to disgraced politician's name (NYDN) A Long Island sports complex named after Skelos has quietly removed the signsbearing his name. Though the park is still named after Skelos, who last week was sentenced to five years in prison on federal corruption charges, the village of Rockville Centre removed any signs referencing the Dean Skelos Sports Complex.* Sheldon Silver's Surrender Date Pushed Back to August 31 (NY1)

 In 16 Months and One Trial Silver When From "Man of Integrity" To "Bad Apple"

Senate Democratic Aide Who Ask if Team de Blasio Check Cleared Subpoenaed 
A state Senate Democratic aide who was a campaign manager referenced in a state Board of Elections criminal referral involving Team de Blasio’s 2014 fundraising operation on behalf of the Senate Democrats has been subpoenaed by investigators, a source said. In her referral, Board of Elections Chief Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman cited a 2014 email from Matthew Lerch, then Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk’s campaign manager, to Ulster County Democratic Committee Treasurer Hayes Clement asking if a $60,000 check from the state Nurse’s Association had cleared and if it could be transferred to Tkaczyk’s campaign committee “ASAP.” Sugarman called the email proof of improper coordination and earmarking. Mayor de Blasio and his camp have insisted everything was done legally.

Albany Ethics Pension Rerorm Still Going Nowhere
Negotiations over a proposal to strip pensions from corrupt lawmakers continue in Albany — though broader ethics reforms appear to be going nowhere despite two recent scandals involving their leaders.* Gridlock Creeps Up On Ethics Bills(YNN)

Silver and Skelos Will Not Go to Jail Until After Supreme Court Rules On Corruption Case
Manhattan federal prosecutors told the judge who sentenced Dean and Adam Skelos last week that the government won’t push for them to go to prison until at least three-plus months after the U.S. Supreme Court rules in a pending case on anti-corruption laws.

Does the Daily News Think Getting Rid of LLCs is Going to Clean Up Albany?  The Same Real Estate LLCs Created the Jobs for NY PAC to Buy he City Council 
While Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie have supported bills to close the so-called LLC loophole, state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has not and is likely not to support any of the bills the governor has introduced, the Daily News writes. Champion of corruption: John Flanagan won’t say yes to closing a gaping campaign finance loophole  (NYDN)  The truth and dare game thrown into the Legislature by Gov. Cuomo is clarifying who will support and who will fight a major anti-corruption reform. Cuomo filed bills to close the so-called LLC loophole that allows wealthy interests to donate unlimited amounts to politicians. He submitted eight measures, ranging from eliminating the loophole for all state political seats to targeting specific elected offices. Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie backs wiping the loophole off the books. So he is in sync there with Cuomo. That leaves the Senate, led by Republican John Flanagan. The dare has been put to him: Go for just one of the governor’s choices, even for gubernatorial races alone, and throw the challenge back at Cuomo and the Assembly. We’re not holding our breath. The truth is Flanagan is ready to keep the corruption font flowing.

The NYT Knew About Shadow Lobbyists Wroking Inside de Blasio Government  
The Press By Using Lobbyists Inside Mayor Office As Lobbyists Has Enabled de Blasio's Corruption

de Blasio Defense: "I Did Not Steal From Everyone"  HE IS NUTS
Mayor de Blasio promises to release list of donors denied favors (NYDN) “A stunning number of donors and supporters not only did not get things they hoped they would get, they got a rejection of things they hoped they would get,” Mayor de Blasio insisted Wednesday. He said a list of disappointed donors would be provided “in the coming weeks.” The bizarre promise came in the midst of a rambling, more than two-hour news conference in which a defensive de Blasio refused to answer point-blank if he solicited donations from people with business before the city, and insisted he was more transparent than other elected officials — while at the same time defending his refusal to release emails from outside consultants with his administration. “We followed legal guidance,” de Blasio said when asked if he could say yes or no on whether he solicited donations from people who were doing business with the city. He said there were different rules for different types of fund-raising — including his now-disbanded Campaign for One New York — but that he always stuck to the law. The mayor, who is grappling with several intertwined law enforcement investigations into his fund-raising, said critics miss that the money was being raised for a good cause. Speaking slowly and enunciating every word, he said: “We are trying to change things.” He added sarcastically, “If I thought the status quo was just dandy, I wouldn’t have been trying to put together resources to change it.” Although he repeatedly said his administration was more transparent than others when disclosing donations, the transparency ends when it comes to his emails. De Blasio said he won’t release emails from Jonathan Rosen — an outside campaign consultant who has clients with business before the city — because as an informal adviser he is not subject to Freedom of Information Laws.*   De Blasio Taking Responsibility for Lifting of City's Deed Restrictions (NY1) *

Scandal de Blasio Poll Numbers Drop 19 Point in 3 Months
Mayor de Blasio’s approval hits record low (NYP) Battered by numerous investigations of his campaign and administration, Mayor de Blasio on Tuesday saw his job-approval rating sink to its lowest point since he took office. Only 41 percent of voters in the latest Quinnipiac University survey said the mayor was doing a good job, while 52 percent said he wasn’t. That’s a 19-point swing from the previous Q poll, in January, when he de Blasio had a positive, 50-42, rating. Perhaps most troubling for the mayor were the numbers among blacks and Hispanics, who form his base and whose support showed significant signs of erosion for the first time. Four months ago, black voters gave de Blasio an approval rating of 77 percent. This time, it’s only 58 percent. In a similar but smaller drop, Hizzoner’s approval among Hispanic voters fell from 66 to 55. The latest poll also shows that a majority of voters does not believe de Blasio deserves to be re-elected next year, while he finishes in a dead heat with two potential rivals. City Comptroller Scott Stringer would get 36 percent to de Blasio’s 37 in a hypothetical 2017 race, while Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams would grab 34 percent to de Blasio’s 35. The outcomes assume his challengers run as independents in the general election. Voters’ views of de Blasio’s honesty also reached historic lows, with 45 percent saying he’s not trustworthy and 43 percent saying he is. “The overall favorability switching in a couple of months is rather astounding,” said Baruch College Professor Doug Muzzio. * D'Amato says BDB will lose in court his effort to keep"agents of the city" emails private  (NY1)

What Do the Mayor's Friend Get by Joining (Contributing) to Campaign for 1NY?
Answer this, Mr.Mayor, on the Campaign for One New York (NYDN Ed) Questions with potentially severe consequences will linger for the mayor at least long as Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara keeps asking them. Then, too, the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board has much to discuss with the mayor, assuming that the see-no-evil panel finally recognizes that it’s supposed to enforce the law. Presciently, in February the good government group Common Cause asked the board, as well as campaign finance regulators, to check out the mayor’s money maneuvering through the Campaign for One New York. Hmmm . . . What, if anything, did benefactors Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz expect in return for their sizeable fundraising? What exactly did the mayor’s aides discuss with Reichberg and Rechnitz before and after their money came through? What did de Blasio say as he rattled the tin cup at a dinner in Reichberg’s Brooklyn home? Did he declare that donors would receive no special access to city officials or preferential treatment — as city conflicts rules say he must? Did the mayor or anyone from his administration solicit Campaign for One New York funding from the taxi industry, animal rights activists or the teachers union, knowing each had business before the city — a big conflicts no-no? Stepping back from transactional details to the big picture: De Blasio ran for office under a public financing system that gave his campaign $4 million and capped his spending so that all candidates would compete on a level playing field. Exempt from the spending limits, supporters spent lavishly on attack ads that demolished rival Christine Quinn. The mayor has insisted he had nothing to do with the hit job.* De Blasio Donor Lost$1.9M in Ponzi Scheme Linked to Corruption Probe (DNAINFO)  A landlord who donated to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team was one of the biggest losers in an alleged Ponzi scheme that’s connected to a federal probe of the NYPD and the mayor’s campaign fundraising practices, records show. Gerald Leibman, 74, who has owned Bronx properties that have landed on the public advocate’s bad landlord list, lost $1.9 million to accused fraudster Hamlet Peralta, according to court documents.  Last week Manhattan federal prosecutors charged Peralta, a 36-year-old Bronx restaurateur, with running a pyramid scheme that bilked investors out of $12 million.The criminal case grew out of a public corruption investigation by the FBI and the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

Today's Question is Who's On the FBI Tapes?

"100s of hours of FBI wiretaps" 
The FBI investigation, which includes hundreds of hours of wiretaps and several cooperating witnesses, has moved to broader political corruption issues involving mayoral fund raising, sources say.(DNAINFO) 

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