Don’t say I didn’t warn you. There probably hasn’t even been enough time for former US attorney for Southern New York Preet Bharara to unpack all of his boxes after being fired, but a big change in the investigations he was pursuing has already taken place. After months of looking into questions surrounding the campaign finance activities of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Bharara’s replacement announced that the situation was no longer worth troubling everyone over and the investigation would be dropped. (Associated Press)
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio bolstered his bid for re-election after federal and state prosecutors decided not to charge him in corruption investigations.
The politician has faced two separate probes into his fundraising efforts, specifically the financing of his mayoral campaign in 2013 and the Democratic campaign for the New York Senate in 2014.
But Joon Kim, the acting US attorney in Manhattan, said that after “careful deliberation” there were no plans to bring federal criminal charges against the 55-year-old or aides who acted on his behalf in fundraising efforts.
The prosecutor added that this kind of announcement was rare, but “appropriate in this case at this time” so that the mayoral campaign and November election would not be unduly influenced.
This is pretty remarkable. Even by New York City standards this seems like a rather bold slap in the face to the public. If we are to give an extreme measure of the benefit of the doubt here, I suppose one could say it’s theoretically possible that the investigation was coming to a close naturally anyway. After all, the mayor did go for a sitdown meeting with Bharara only a couple of weeks ago and came away from it saying that he felt “encouraged” by the results.
But… C’mon, man.
The US Attorney’s office had a ton of man-hours invested in this project and it had taken in information from a wide variety of donors and campaign funds. We are now supposed to believe that all of those holes came up dry and there’s nothing to see here so we should all just move along? Bharara was not the type to frivolously bring people in for questioning and launch investigations for the purposes of partisan political witch hunts. When he trained his sights on someone it almost always turned out to be for a reason and produced results. He has put numerous politicians in jail and delivered indictments against many more. These are cases which held up under scrutiny and passed muster with both the District Attorney’s Office and federal juries.
It’s also more than a little curious that Bharara’s replacement decided to come out and make such a formal announcement, particularly in light of the fact that the mayor is ramping up for his reelection bid this year. There were already clouds hanging over that effort because of the ongoing investigations, even reaching the point where speculation had been running wild that Hillary Clinton might challenge him for the job. This seems like some awfully convenient timing and highly profitable news for Bill de Blasio, particularly when it takes place only days after the state’s biggest corruption buster was unceremoniously discharged from his office.
I’m not saying this definitively proves anything, but I can’t help but think of that old Bill Clinton saying yet again. When you see a turtle on top of a fence post…