Lame duck New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is in hot water after a city ethics panel revealed he solicited donations from big developers after giving them the green light to build in New York.
The city’s Conflicts of Interest Board sent the 2018 letter, which de Blasio fought to keep under wraps for several years and reveals fundraising efforts on behalf of his now-defunct nonprofit Campaign for One New York.
That refusal happened in 2019, when the city’s Department of Investigation discovered that the mayor broke ethics laws by getting donations from three specific developers that got the OK to build in the city.
The donors in question: James Capalino of Capalino and Associates, which gave the mayor $10,000; David Von Spreckelsen, president of Toll Brothers who gave $25,000; and Jeffrey Levine, chairman of Douglaston Development who also gave $25,000.
In addition to the $10,000, Capalino arranged with his clients to give de Blasio’s nonprofit another $90,000.
Bill de Blasio has been condemned for soliciting donations from developers given the green light to build in NYC
David Von Spreckelsen (pictured left) of Toll Brothers was among de Blasio’s donors, giving $25,000.
Jeffrey Levine – chair of Douglaston Development – gave $25,000 to de Blasio’s nonprofit, Campaign for One New York
The mayor asked these three developers – all of whom had business before city agencies – to support Campaign for One New York. He failed to provide the required disclaimer saying it ‘would result in no official favor or disfavor,’ the New York Times found.
‘By soliciting these three donations from firms with business pending before executive agencies, and providing no disclaimers, you not only disregarded the Board’s repeated written advice, but created the very appearance of of coercion and improper access to you and you staff that the Board’s advice sought to help you avoid,’ the letter from the city ethics panel said.
‘A public servant who engages in solicitations such as these, either directly or through a surrogate, acts in conflict with that public servant’s official duties, in violation of the City Charter,’ it continues.
The mayor skated federal charges related to fundraising in 2017, as the board agreed not to sanction the mayor for disbanding the organization.
New York’s City Council passed a law preventing these kinds of improper fundraising activities.
James Capalino gave $10,000 to de Blasio’s nonprofit and got his clients to kick in another $90,000
Jeffrey D. Friedlander was appointed to New York City’s Conflicts of Interests Board in March 2017
Campaign for One New York began as a way to promote de Blasio’s eventually implemented universal pre-K program but eventually became a general nonprofit boosting his own agenda.
‘The calls the Mayor was making at this time were to support affordable housing legislation and his effort to achieve Universal Pre-K for every child in New York City, which is now a national model. He has consistently acted in good faith and followed the process set out for him,’ said City Hall Press Secretary Danielle Filson. ‘The Board closed these cases and determined no enforcement action was necessary.’
The department of investigations has conducted their own search into the activities. The Times reported that the mayor has $300,000 in legal debts stemming from his defense.
It is unclear how much all of this cost New York City’s taxpayers, as the city’s law department worked to keep the conflicts board letters secret.
De Blasio steps down from his mayoral position next month, with Mayor-Elect Eric Adams set to move into Gracie Mansion.
The outgoing mayor is planning to launch a bid for the 2022 New York Governor’s election, although he has proven unpopular among both liberal and conservative New Yorkers, and is currently considered a long-shot to win.