Mayor de Blasio’s chief marketing campaign fund-raiser bought a free Caribbean lodge keep from one of many mayor’s high donors, testimony revealed Monday.
The allegation was made by Jona Rechnitz, 34, the Brooklyn businessman who raised $193,000 for the mayor and repeatedly sought favors from Metropolis Corridor.
Rechnitz, testifying for the third day within the bribery trial of a union boss, stated he gifted the mayor’s shut aide, Ross Offinger, by secretly paying for his lodge within the Dominican Republic.
“When he was away on trip within the Dominican Republic, I paid for his lodge keep,” Rechnitz stated when Assistant U.S. Legal professional Martin Bell requested if he’d ever given something “private” to Offinger.
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Offinger is one in all de Blasio’s high aides. Since October 2013, he has been paid both by the mayor’s marketing campaign or his now-defunct nonprofit, Marketing campaign for One New York, as a fund-raiser.
He was one in all a handful of aides who advised candidates for political appointments to the mayor. He’s getting about $10,000 a month as fund-raising guide for de Blasio’s 2017 reelection.
On Monday, de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips stated the mayor had not spoken with Offinger concerning the free lodge because it got here to mild.
“The mayor wasn’t conscious of it and positively wouldn’t have authorized of it,” Phillips stated. “The essential factor to recollect is that Mr. Offinger wasn’t a authorities worker and didn’t make selections at any degree for metropolis authorities.”
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A spokesman for the mayor’s marketing campaign, Dan Levitan, stated the lodge present can have no influence on Offinger’s employment by the mayor’s reelection committee.
“Ross is a finance guide to the marketing campaign, and there are not any modifications deliberate,” he stated. “All of this has been totally examined by a number of businesses, and the issues have been all closed with no motion taken.”
Rechnitz was not requested when he paid Offinger’s lodge invoice, however he’s stated he was launched to the mayor by Offinger in October 2013.
Since then, he raised $41,000 for the mayor’s 2013 marketing campaign, donated $50,000 to the mayor’s nonprofit, and wrote a $102,300 examine he says was personally solicited by the mayor for a failed 2014 effort to flip the state Senate to Democratic management.
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In return, he’s testified that he informed Offinger he anticipated “a number of entry” to Metropolis Corridor after which requested for a number of favors from the mayor’s administration all through 2014 and into 2015.
Offinger was paid by de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral marketing campaign as fund-raising director from October by way of Jan. 15, 2013. He then converted to turn out to be treasurer for Marketing campaign for One New York (CONY).
His CONY wage was $180,000 in 2014 and $201,000 in 2015. In 2014, tax kinds state he averaged 20 hours of labor per week. He returned to de Blasio’s reelection marketing campaign in November 2015, and has been there since.
In late 2014, he was additionally soliciting checks as a part of de Blasio’s effort to steer cash to upstate candidates to flip the state Senate to Democratic management.
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Sometimes the mayor would name up a donor and say he’d admire their badist, then Offinger would comply with up with logistics and particular greenback figures.
Rechnitz testified final week that de Blasio personally made such a request, and he responded with a six-figure examine, stating, “As soon as the mayor known as me, I felt, it is a private favor for him and I will come by way of.”
Offinger’s actions have been examined by the Manhattan U.S. Legal professional and Manhattan District Legal professional of their probes of de Blasio’s fund-raising ways.
No expenses have been introduced in both probe, however the feds discovered that de Blasio had intervened on behalf of donors and the DA stated the Senate fund-raising scheme was “opposite to the intent and spirt of the regulation.”
On Monday Offinger’s lawyer, Harlan Levy, stated, “All these allegations towards Ross Offinger have been totally investigated for nearly a yr by federal and state authorities, who appropriately took no motion towards him. Mr. Offinger acted appropriately.”
Over the weekend de Blasio fired again at Rechnitz, who’s testifying as a cooperating witness in Manhattan U.S. Legal professional Joon Kim’s bribery case towards former jails union boss Norman Seabrook.
The mayor claimed he barely knew Rechnitz and that he didn’t recall a number of of the particular interactions and a dangerous electronic mail Rechnitz referenced in court docket.
On Monday, prosecutor Bell made a degree of asking Rechnitz concerning the frequency of his communications with the mayor. Rechnitz stated he interacted with the mayor through his private cellular phone, his workplace cellphone and his private electronic mail “on a weekly foundation” earlier than the election. After the election he stated he met with the mayor “many instances.”
Emails launched beneath the state Freedom of Data regulation quote de Blasio stating “I’m all ears” when Rechnitz advised a candidate for Constructing Commissioner. The candidate wasn’t picked.
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