Last week Mayor de Blasio speed-walked down a Queens street away from a press pack hectoring him about a donor who’d claimed he’d demanded “lots of access” to City Hall in return for big bucks checks.
During Wednesday night’s debate, the mayor had put that all behind him, stating flatly that he won’t be releasing any more information about donor Jona Rechnitz’s many communications with him.
With a mere six days until the night he’ll likely win re-election, the mayor took the position in the final debate before Election Day that nobody really cares about pay to play at City Hall.
“I’m not releasing any more information,” he proclaimed. “These issues have been looked at by the authorities…Everyone knows that. They understand that these other issues were looked at and there was no follow up.”
The facts are these: de Blasio was investigated for a year by both federal and local prosecutors. They ultimately did not bring charges but did make a very public point of stating that he intervened on behalf of donors and took actions “contrary to the intent and spirt of the law.”
Starting last week, one of those donors, 34-year-old Brooklyn would-be developer Rechnitz, testified in court that he’d made his intention to buy influence at City Hall crystal clear.
Rechnitz, sworn in to tell only the truth, said that de Blasio gave him his personal cell number and email and even personally solicited a $102,300 check from him.
Asked about the specifics of these interactions, de Blasio suffered a temporary memory loss.
During the debate, the mayor claimed he barely knew the man he once referred to in an email as “my good friend.”
He also shut the door on further inquiry by stating clearly that he would not release any more information about his many Rechnitz interactions.
He did this despite his two rivals’ desperate and repeated attempts to question his integrity, with ex-NYPD Det. Bo Dietl calling him a criminal and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, R-Staten Island, promising that, “On Jan. 1, the ‘For Sale’ sign comes off the gates of City Hall.”
But on Tuesday, all the polls indicate, de Blasio will likely be the one throwing a big victory party.
As it happens, the bribery trial that Rechnitz starred in for the prosecution will result in a verdict soon after.