His name is Jona Rechnitz, and he has pleaded guilty to corruption and is now cooperating with the feds in the hopes of a lighter sentence. But his testimony in Manhattan Federal Court in the bribery trial of a union boss named Norman Seabrook has also shed light on dirty dealings of a much larger fish: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Rechnitz claims that de Blasio personally promised him “lots of access” to City Hall in exchange for a generous contribution to the New York State branch of the Democratic Party — a claim that de Blasio denies.
From New York’s Daily News:
Detailing what he said was a close relationship with the mayor, Rechnitz continued to undermine de Blasio’s claim that Hizzoner barely knew Rechnitz and couldn’t figure out how the man wound up on his inaugural committee.
Rechnitz raised $193,000 on behalf of the mayor and told a top de Blasio aide he expected “lots of access” to City Hall. The mayor visited Rechnitz at his office, gave him his personal cell phone number and email, and repeatedly directed subordinates to respond to Rechnitz’s many requests.
According to emails, Rechnitz had been an active fundraiser for de Blasio, collecting $41,000 for the mayor’s 2013 election. But in the fall of 2014, Rechnitz was approached by Ross Offinger, a member of de Blasio’s team, who told him they needed more money to help flip the state Senate back to Democratic control. When Rechnitz protested, “All you do is come here when you need money,” Offinger recommended that he call the mayor himself.
“Once the mayor called me, I felt, it’s a personal favor for him and I’m going to come through,” Rechnitz testified.
On Oct. 22, 2014, records show, Rechnitz wrote a check for $102,300 — the maximum allowed — to the State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. The check was under a limited liability corporation — not his own name.
Bill de Blasio is on pace to be swept into office for a second term this coming November.
Granted, New York City is a blue “state,” but is this really the best its citizens can do?