We reported last month that the US Attorney in Manhattan was interested in having a “sit down” meeting with Big Apple Mayor Bill de Blasio regarding multiple questions over campaign contributions he had received and favors allegedly done for donors. That get-together finally took place this week and from the sound of things it was anything but a quick stop for high tea and friendly conversation. The “grilling” (as it was described in the press) stretched on for a total of four hours and seems unlikely to have ended the questions swirling around City Hall. But for his part, the mayor tried to paint a sunny face on it. (New York Daily News)
Mayor de Blasio said he told federal investigators “everything I know” about probes into his fundraising during a questioning session Friday and believes the meeting went “fine.”
“My goal was to be open and transparent and communicative and to be cooperative. And I think it’s quite clear a four-hour interview is a good faith effort to try to provide information,” de Blasio said in his first comments since being grilled by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office. “I believe when all the facts are looked at, it will be quite clear that we’ve handled things appropriately.”
The mayor met for four hours at his Midtown attorney’s office with investigators who are looking into whether donors to his campaigns and his now-defunct non-profit, the Campaign for One New York, got special favors in return.
The somewhat frustrating but understandable aspect of this report is that we have virtually no clue as to what the US Attorney took away from the meeting. That’s completely appropriate since we’re talking about a potential criminal investigation which has been going on for some time now. Keep in mind that as early as last August there were reports leaking out about the fact that various investigations into the mayor’s campaign activities had drawn the attention of none other than Preet Bharara.
Bharara has become something of a legend in law enforcement. His record for pursuing corruption cases against New York government officials could make for the plot of a blockbuster film. Keep in mind that this is the same prosecutor who took down Sheldon Silver, arguably the most powerful Democrat in the Empire State. Then, just for good measure, he followed that up by obtaining a conviction against the state’s most influential Republican. Both of those gentlemen are now awaiting seriously long stretches in a federal penitentiary, so there are few who would dare to imply that Bharara is some sort of partisan hack who is pursuing a politically motivated agenda.
A case like this takes quite a while to come to fruition and will no doubt continue to generate headlines in the days to come. (That’s assuming that the prosecutor doesn’t come up empty and simply drop it.) With that in mind, it’s worth remembering that the mayor is up for reelection this year. For a short time there was talk that Hillary Clinton might be interested in the job, but that rumor seemed to fall apart pretty quickly. Still, do New York Democrats really want a guy under this level of federal scrutiny hanging around and continuing to cast a dark cloud over their news cycle?
Maybe not, but the voters seem to have very little in the way of choices. The New York Times ran a lengthy piece just this weekend explaining why de Blasio may as well be running unopposed. He’s been stuck with approval ratings below 50% for some time now, has failed on many of his initiatives and is frequently associated with various scandals. Still, the Democrats can’t seem to find any credible person willing to run against him. Does that mean the Republicans have a chance? Don’t make me laugh.
The results of the election are probably a foregone conclusion. The only popcorn aspect of the situation which will remain worth watching is what happens if and when the US Attorney’s office sends someone to the mayor’s door with a warrant.