[Marxism] Bill De Blasio

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Nov 3 07:24:32 MDT 2017


Just 2 months ago, the Nation Magazine published an article titled "Bill 
de Blasio Has Proved that Economic Justice Is a Winning Democratic 
Strategy".

Here's a more telling article:

NY Times, Nov. 3 2017
The Mayor Sought Money, a Donor Sought Access: Both Said ‘Yes’
By WILLIAM NEUMAN and J. DAVID GOODMAN

When it came to making political donations for Mayor Bill de Blasio, 
Jona S. Rechnitz liked to think of himself as a yes man, always quick 
with the pen. For his generosity, Mr. Rechnitz was provided access to 
City Hall: The mayor took his calls, problems with agencies were 
addressed, questions got answered.

Yet as the mayor neared the end of his first year in office, Mr. 
Rechnitz grew restless. He felt he was no longer getting his money’s worth.

Not long after, Mr. de Blasio called Mr. Rechnitz with his biggest ask 
yet: a six-figure donation to help Democrats win the State Senate. Mr. 
Rechnitz said he could not turn down the mayor and wrote a check for 
$102,300.

Suddenly the gears of government began spinning again for Mr. Rechnitz, 
a real estate investor. A city official emailed him with an offer to set 
up a meeting to discuss hefty fines that Mr. Rechnitz claimed were 
levied unfairly against a Manhattan building that he owned. About the 
same time, city officials began answering his long-stalled questions 
about another property in Brooklyn.

Mr. Rechnitz, once among the mayor’s biggest donors, is the key 
government witness in a corruption trial in Federal District Court in 
Manhattan against a powerful former correction union boss, Norman 
Seabrook. Mr. Rechnitz, who has already pleaded guilty to crimes 
involving bribery, has been testifying against Mr. Seabrook.

But in his days on the stand, beginning last week, he delivered his 
characterization of Mr. de Blasio as a politician ready and willing to 
swing wide the doors of City Hall to an obscure young real estate 
investor — as long as Mr. Rechnitz kept the donations coming.

His testimony, corroborated in many parts by a series of emails provided 
by the city in response to a Freedom of Information law request, 
describe a City Hall where donors had top-level access. They show the 
mayor asking Mr. Rechnitz for ever greater sums of money; he received 
access and the cachet that came with it. And Mr. Rechnitz kept opening 
his wallet, leveraging the access his largess bought him to schmooze 
business associates and pose as a big shot.

Mr. de Blasio has dismissed Mr. Rechnitz as “a liar and a felon,” and in 
court Mr. Rechnitz has come across at times as self-promoting and 
untrustworthy. But the revelations have come at an inopportune time. As 
the mayor closes in on what is expected to be a lopsided re-election on 
Tuesday, tabloid headlines have accused him of putting government up for 
sale, and Mr. de Blasio was forced to face questions about the testimony 
at a televised debate on Wednesday.

Mr. de Blasio, whose fund-raising practices were once the subject of 
federal and state investigations, is not a defendant in the trial. But 
Mr. Rechnitz’s testimony has given New Yorkers a glimpse of what 
prosecutors had as potential evidence, as they ultimately decided to not 
bring charges against the mayor.

Mr. Rechnitz cooperated with the federal investigation and with a 
separate probe by the Manhattan district attorney, agreeing to plead 
guilty to honest services wire fraud, admitting, according to his court 
testimony, to “giving money to the mayor of New York in exchange for 
favors” and to a scheme to bribe Mr. Seabrook.

The son of a wealthy California family, Mr. Rechnitz, 34, attended 
college in New York and then stayed, eventually starting a real estate 
business. Along the way he met Jeremy Reichberg, a Brooklyn man who had 
connections in the Police Department.

Over time, Mr. Rechnitz and Mr. Reichberg befriended Mr. Seabrook and 
top police officials, including Philip Banks III, once the 
highest-ranking uniformed member of the department. He lavished gifts on 
the police officials and Mr. Seabrook and took them on trips. In 
exchange, he got favors, such as police escorts.

In 2013, Mr. Rechnitz turned his sights on City Hall. “We had the police 
going for us and now it was time to get into politics,” he testified.

After Mr. de Blasio won the Democratic mayoral primary that September, 
Mr. Rechnitz said that he and Mr. Reichberg met with Ross Offinger, Mr. 
de Blasio’s chief fund-raiser, and delivered a message. “We’re going to 
become significant contributors, but we want access,” Mr. Rechnitz said 
he told Mr. Offinger. “When we reach out for things, we want them to get 
done.”

He said Mr. Offinger asked how much Mr. Rechnitz and his associates 
could raise. Mr. Rechnitz said he offered to raise up to $100,000.

He said Mr. de Blasio soon paid him a visit in his Midtown office and 
the politician gave him his personal cellphone number and email address 
and “told me to call if there’s anything I need, always be in touch, and 
he really appreciated my support and friendship.”

Mr. Rechnitz said he called the mayor often during the campaign and 
afterward. But Mr. de Blasio has said that they were never close.

Mr. de Blasio said during the debate that he gave his personal email to 
“thousands” of people, but he refused to make public cellphone records 
that could show how often the men were in contact. He has also 
repeatedly said he cannot remember key elements of his dealings with Mr. 
Rechnitz.

Mr. Rechnitz named several instances in which he sought help, including 
for a friend who wanted assistance with hefty charges on water bills. 
The emails show that Mr. Reichberg raised the issue of $650,000 of 
“overcharges” with the chief of staff of First Deputy Mayor Tony 
Shorris. The charges were ultimately reduced. Mr. de Blasio has said 
that they were excessive because of a faulty meter and that the problem 
was addressed as it would be “for any taxpayer.”

The federal corruption trial of the correction officer union head, 
Norman Seabrook, shown leaving a federal court last year, has been 
dominated by testimony that has portrayed a pay-for-access culture in 
the de Blasio administration. Credit Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press
But Mr. Rechnitz said that some concerns were not getting proper 
attention. One involved a building he owned on Madison Avenue in 
Manhattan, which city inspectors said was being used illegally as a 
hotel, through Airbnb rentals; another involved the Brooklyn property, 
where he said that a sale had been held up because the Police Department 
saw it as a potential site for a precinct station house.

That was when Mr. Offinger contacted Mr. Rechnitz to ask for money to 
help Democrats take over the State Senate — a priority of Mr. de Blasio’s.

“I told him no,” Mr. Rechnitz said, adding: “I said, ‘You know, I have 
not even heard from the mayor in a while. All you do is you come here 
when you need money.’”

Mr. Rechnitz said that after the rebuff, Mr. de Blasio called him, 
although the mayor has said that he cannot remember if he personally 
asked Mr. Rechnitz for the donation. “The mayor told me that it would 
mean a great deal to him,” Mr. Rechnitz said. He said he could not turn 
down a personal appeal from the mayor. “I asked him, ‘What’s the maximum 
I’m allowed to donate to you, Mr. Mayor?’ He said: ‘You can talk to 
Ross. I think it’s $102,000.’ And that’s exactly what I did.”

Mr. Rechnitz wrote a check to the New York State Senate Democratic 
Campaign Committee from one of his companies, JSTD Madison, on Oct. 22, 
2014, according to campaign finance records.

On Oct. 29, Mr. Rechnitz received an email from an official at what was 
then known as the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, which was 
responsible for enforcing violations like those at his Madison Avenue 
building, offering to schedule a meeting.

The head of the office, Elan Parra, later sent Mr. Rechnitz an email 
asking to meet with him “so that we can discuss some of the 
issues/concerns you raised.” A meeting was eventually scheduled in December.

Besides the State Senate donation, Mr. Rechnitz and his wife, Rachel, 
each made the maximum contribution of $4,950 to Mr. de Blasio in 2013. 
Mr. Rechnitz also contributed $50,000 to a nonprofit group created by 
Mr. de Blasio and bundled $41,650 in donations from other people to the 
mayor, although he admitted during the trial that a portion of that was 
his own money, funneled to the mayor through straw donors.

Mr. de Blasio has said that Mr. Rechnitz did not get his fines on the 
Madison Avenue building reduced and did not receive special treatment. 
He said he treated all constituents the same.

The testimony is not likely to alter the course of the 2017 election, 
with the vote on Tuesday. But it provided fodder for Mr. de Blasio’s 
opponents during the Wednesday debate.

“When I saw him testify, I wanted to take a shower,” said Bo Dietl, an 
independent candidate for mayor, describing Mr. Rechnitz. “This guy is a 
creep, he’s disgusting, and this mayor dealt with him.”

Vivian Wang contributed reporting.





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