[Marxism] [SUSPICIOUS MESSAGE] De Blasio Donors Took Pride in Connections With Top Police Officials

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Apr 12 09:46:42 MDT 2016


(When I read this type of article, I am reminded of why I made the right 
decision to never vote for a Democrat starting in 1967.)

NY Times, Apr. 12 2016
De Blasio Donors Took Pride in Connections With Top Police Officials
By J. DAVID GOODMAN, CHARLES V. BAGLI, WILLIAM NEUMAN and WILLIAM K. 
RASHBAUM

Jona S. Rechnitz, the scion of a wealthy Los Angeles family, came to New 
York City about a decade ago to make his mark. A brash young man eager 
to fund philanthropic causes, he cultivated connections with the Police 
Department — posing with top officials, and once arranging for police 
bagpipes at a party — and became a fixture at fund-raising events for 
Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Jeremiah Reichberg came from the more cloistered world of Borough Park, 
Brooklyn, an Orthodox Jewish enclave where he was a familiar presence, 
even if his private life and business dealings were not well known. He 
ran a consulting firm, and hosted Mr. de Blasio to great fanfare at his 
home in 2014 for a fund-raising event.

Mr. Rechnitz and Mr. Reichberg became close, appearing together at 
public and private events, and serving on Mr. de Blasio’s inauguration 
committee — an honor bestowed on the famous, like the writer Junot Díaz 
and the actor Steve Buscemi, and on lavish givers. In recent weeks, they 
have become the fulcrum of a sprawling federal corruption investigation 
into the mayor’s fund-raising activities and the actions of police 
commanders.

The federal inquiry, which began in 2013, has laid bare the city’s nexus 
of political influence and campaign donations, dormant for a decade 
during the administration of the billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg, as 
well as the world of those men, like Mr. Rechnitz and Mr. Reichberg, who 
sidle up to police officials as a kind of informal currency. The two men 
— neither of whom has been charged with a crime — appeared to take great 
pride in the closeness with which they spoke to senior commanders, 
including Philip Banks III, formerly the third-highest-ranking chief, 
who has come under scrutiny as part of the inquiry.

So far, four top police officials have been censured, and the inquiry 
has derailed what had been a high point for the mayor after the passage 
of his affordable housing plan last month.

On Monday, Mr. de Blasio faced repeated questions over his connections 
to Mr. Rechnitz and Mr. Reichberg and what they might have gained from 
funneling tens of thousands of dollars into the mayor’s advocacy efforts 
and campaign coffers. He said it would be the last time he answered 
questions about the men.

“I know of no favorable municipal action that they got,” the mayor said 
on Monday, as he was peppered with questions about the men. He could not 
say how or why they ended up on his inaugural committee. “I don’t know 
the specific process of how each name was determined,” he said. “I don’t 
know the exact ticktock of that.”

Mr. Rechnitz, the 33-year-old son of Robert Rechnitz, a prominent 
business owner who has raised money for pro-Israel causes in Washington, 
attended Yeshiva University in New York. After graduation, he found work 
at a real estate firm, Africa Israel, owned by Lev Leviev, a 
free-spending Israeli-Russian diamond merchant who invested heavily in 
New York real estate during the last boom.

Mr. Leviev bought the landmark Apthorp building on Broadway on the Upper 
West Side in 2006 for $426 million, with plans to convert it to 
condominiums. He was the financial backer of the developer Shaya 
Boymelgreen, buying properties in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Africa Israel tangled with regulators and lenders, and became a 
high-profile casualty of the recession, losing control of the Upper West 
Side building, and paying a settlement over luxury buildings left 
unfinished.

At the same time, Mr. Rechnitz was expanding his presence in the city’s 
Jewish community. Rabbi Steven Burg, the former eastern director of the 
Simon Wiesenthal Center and the New York Museum of Tolerance, said he 
had met Mr. Rechnitz about four years ago through Mr. Rechnitz’s work at 
the museum.

“Anytime I needed something, he would drop whatever he was doing and 
help out,” Rabbi Burg said. He said that Mr. Rechnitz helped with the 
museum’s efforts to provide tolerance training to the Police and 
Correction Departments starting in 2014.

“He was instrumental,” the rabbi said. “We did a day of training for 
correction officers and started a whole program working with the 
Department of Correction.”

Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, who knew Mr. Rechnitz from Los Angeles, said he 
was “a charitable guy,” a family man “who is just exceptionally kind and 
exceptionally giving” to different charities.

It was not clear when Mr. Rechnitz met Mr. Reichberg or what brought 
them together from different corners of New York City’s political and 
religious world: Mr. Reichberg from Borough Park’s Orthodox Jewish 
community, Mr. Rechnitz from a less formally religious community on the 
Upper West Side.

“Oh, yeah, that’s not Jona,” Rabbi Einhorn said upon learning of Mr. 
Reichberg and his roots in Brooklyn.

Yet they were often seen together at police events around the city and 
may have bonded over their common fascination with the police and 
interest in cultivating connections among the top officials.

Mr. Reichberg became a volunteer police chaplain for the Westchester 
County Department of Public Safety in 2013. His appointment coincided 
with a $15,000 donation from J.S.R. Capital, Mr. Rechnitz’s real estate 
company, to the re-election bid of the county executive, Rob Astorino. 
(Mr. Reichberg was suspended from the position last week.)

Mr. Reichberg also found himself briefly in the media spotlight in 2013 
as a representative of the Glauber family, after their son and pregnant 
daughter-in-law were killed in a hit-and-run in Brooklyn.

Less is known about Mr. Reichberg, whose company has no public website; 
fewer public records directly connected to his business, J.R. 
Consulting, could be found.

By contrast, Mr. Rechnitz seemed eager to expand his profile in New 
York. A sports fan who favored the Knicks, he placed large bets on the 
Super Bowl, twice winning substantial sums that he was said to have 
later donated. He ended up in the gossip pages in 2013 after a casual 
courtside chat at a Knicks game resulted in a $100,000 donation to 
several Jewish charities.

Neither Mr. Rechnitz nor Mr. Reichberg appeared to have been well known 
for their political activities. “I don’t know them. If I bumped into 
them, I wouldn’t know them,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat who 
has represented the area of Borough Park in various capacities for more 
than three decades. “People want to be machers. That’s a good thing, if 
it’s done correctly.”

Early in the 2013 campaign, Mr. Rechnitz told close associates he 
favored William C. Thompson Jr., who appeared more likely to prevail. 
After Mr. de Blasio won the September primary, he and his wife donated 
the limit, $4,950, to his general election campaign. Mr. Rechnitz also 
acted as a bundler, collecting $41,650 for the campaign in October 2013. 
Then, a few days before he was named to the inaugural committee, he 
bundled another contribution of $3,000.

Three members of the inaugural committee said they were unaware if it 
ever held a meeting. “It was largely ceremonial,” said Janet Dewart 
Bell, a communications consultant who was on the committee. She said her 
involvement was essentially limited to a phone conversation with the 
committee chairwoman, Gabrielle Fialkoff, where they discussed the 
inauguration in general.

“There was no sitting down, no logistical planning; they were not asking 
us to do that,” Ms. Bell said.

Ms. Fialkoff, the inauguration chairwoman, had been the finance 
co-chairwoman of Mr. de Blasio’s campaign and is a longtime friend of 
the mayor. Ms. Fialkoff is now a senior adviser to the mayor, the 
director of the mayor’s office of strategic partnerships, and a member 
of the board of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.

By Dec. 3, 2013, weeks before Mr. de Blasio took office, Mr. Rechnitz 
was sitting in a conference room packed with other potential donors at 
the Midtown law firm Kramer Levin. There, according to a person who also 
attended the meeting, the mayor spoke to the group before leaving the 
room. Those in attendance were then asked for contributions.

Mr. Rechnitz — whose company owns a strip mall in Borough Park, a 
Midtown building and several other modest properties — was at other 
fund-raisers, including on Dec. 10 at B. B. King’s restaurant in Times 
Square.

On Jan. 28, a company controlled by Mr. Rechnitz, JSTD Madison, made a 
contribution of $50,000 to the Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit 
formed to press for Mr. de Blasio’s agenda. Mr. Rechnitz appears on real 
estate documents as a “managing member” of the company.

In the middle of 2014, Mr. Rechnitz was again at a fund-raiser to help 
Mr. de Blasio’s efforts on behalf of Democrats in the State Senate. In 
October 2014, JSTD Madison made a $102,300 contribution to the state’s 
Democratic Senate campaign committee, at a time that Mr. de Blasio was 
pushing to shift control of the State Senate to his party.

Earlier, on May 21, 2014, Mr. Reichberg hosted the mayor at his 
million-dollar brick home on 56th Street in Borough Park. Before Mr. de 
Blasio arrived, crowds had already gathered outside to welcome him. It 
was not clear if Mr. Rechnitz had attended.

By that time, however, the federal investigation was already well underway.

Jack Begg, Alain Delaquérière and Michael M. Grynbaum contributed reporting.



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