Watch CBS News

De Blasio's Office Subpoenaed In Campaign Fundraising Probe

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio's office, and some members of the mayor's inner circle, have been subpoenaed as state and federal prosecutors sniff around how the mayor raised campaign cash.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance sent the subpoena to the Mayor's office. It was not clear what records were covered by the order, but this was the first time the investigation has reached the Mayor's office.

De Blasio's counsel issued a statement Wednesday night confirming the subpoena and promising cooperation.

Mayor de Blasio himself has not been subpoenaed.

Meanwhile, among those in the mayor's inner circle who were subpoenaed were Emma Wolfe, a top political adviser and the city's director of intergovernmental affairs; top fundraiser Ross Offinger; and the consulting firm Berlin Rosen, which works on the mayor's political campaigns.

Being subpoenaed means the subjects can be questioned and must preserve documents.

When asked about the subpoenas, de Blasio spokeswoman Karen Hinton said: "We're not commenting on the details of the investigations. All involved followed the letter of the law and are cooperating fully with the investigations."

Hinton described Wolfe as "a highly-regarded public servant whose integrity should not be questioned."

Earlier Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio argued Wednesday that other mayors raised campaign cash the same way he did. But CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported the mayor may have a hard time doing so.

It is an undisputed fact, Kramer reported, that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg believed in putting his money where his mouth was. He gave a staggering $7.17 million to various political committees and candidates from 2006 through 2012.

That figure included large donations to state Senate Republican and Assembly Democrat committees.

So when Kramer first asked Mayor de Blasio in October 2014 about claims that there was something wrong with the way he was raising money to unseat Senate Republicans in order to further his agenda, he invoked other mayors and political leaders.

"It's something that's been going on in this state for a long time," de Blasio said. "It's a normal thing to provide support for party organizations."

Kramer pointed out that critics said it was pay to play.

"It's not," de Blasio replied. "There's nothing new here. For years and years, people have supported party organizations."

But Dick Dadey of the good government group Citizens Union begged to differ. He said it was the way de Blasio raised money that is the potential problem.

"What the mayor has been accused of doing is essentially raising specific money, for a specific committee, for a specific candidate, for a specific cause," he said. "So there was a very seamless transaction raising money going to the candidate committees, and evading contribution limits that exist for the candidate committees."

When asked if the mayor's fundraising methods were "wrong," Dadey said they were.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance are trying to determine whether team de Blasio violated the law by circumventing campaign finance limits and earmarking large donations for specific candidates – which is not allowed.

Dadey said there are also several things that differentiate Bloomberg's largess from what de Blasio allegedly did.

"What Mayor Bloomberg did was essentially give large contributions of his own money to these campaign committee accounts with no strings attached. Mayor Bloomberg raised it for general purposes," Dadey said. "Mayor de Blasio has raised it for specific purposes, with the idea of funding specific candidates. That is what the law particularly says is wrong."

Probes are also said to be looking at another aspect of team de Blasio fundraising. He and his team allegedly sought out donations from some who did business with the city or had pending matters before the city.

Authorities want to see if there was any kind of quid pro quo involved, sources said.

Multiple federal probes focusing on the NYPD and de Blasio's fundraising, as well as alleged favors to NYPD officers, have so far led to one arrest and several officers to be reassigned or disciplined.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.