By LOUIS FLORES
In addition to having spent thus far appoximately $5,4 million in taxpayer money for criminal defense attorneys in connection with various reported ethics and corruption investigations, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) has also spent approximately $200,000 in legal fees since 2014 from three of his political committees. New Yorkers for de Blasio, Mayor de Blasio's 2013 committee to elect, has paid over $70,000 to the law firm of Kantor, Davidoff, Mandelker, Twomey, Gallanty & Olenick, P.C., and de Blasio 2017, his committee to reëlect, paid over $43,000 to Kantor, Davidoff, online records from the New York State Board of Elections show.
Mayor de Blasio's 2017 committee to reëlect has also paid $34,000 to Ross Offinger, according to the State campaign finance regulatory authority. Mr. Offinger had served as a finance director for Mayor de Blasio's 2013 committee to elect, and Mr. Officer has reportedly been at the center of fundraising activities that have been of reported interest to Federal prosecutors. Mr. Offinger is reportedly represented by the law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, and it is not known if the large sums paid to him represent indemnification of Mr. Offinger's legal expenses. Dan Levitan, a spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio's 2013 and 2017 committees to elect, and Harlan Levy, an attorney for Mr. Offinger, did not answer requests for interviews for this report.
Mayor de Blasio also operated, for a time, a nonprofit lobbying arm from City Hall, the Campaign for One New York. Mr. Levitan served as a spokesperson for the nonprofit group. Because Mr. Levitan did not answer an interview request, it is not known how much the Campaign for One New York has spent in legal fees, and how those legal fees have been paid since the Campaign for One New York reportedly closed last winter. Progress Queens has previously reported that the Campaign for One New York paid $80,000 in legal fees to Kantor, Davidoff.
"City for Sale"
When Mayor de Blasio first began retaining criminal defense attorneys to defend officials against ethics and corruption investigations, their retention was described as work on behalf of his campaign, and the structuring of the legal defense in that fashion conceivably allowed Mayor de Blasio to provide the same legal counsel to former campaign workers, including those, who now worked for his administration. As reported by Progress Queens, in the past, whenever significant Government officials reportedly became the targets of Federal corruption investigations, significant Government officials have attempted to influence their subordinates’ choice for legal counsel. That observation was derived from the muckraking reporting in the 1988 book, “City For Sale,” by Jack Newfield and Wayne Barrett ; the book documented efforts made by officials to select legal counsel for subordinates, which would allow officials to prevent witnesses from entering into coöperating plea agreements with prosecutors. Recently, for example, when the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) was reportedly being investigated over allegations of obstructing the work of the Moreland Commission, Gov. Cuomo arranged for the same private-sector law firm, Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello PC, to represent administration officials, and the fees of that private-sector law firm were paid for by his campaign committee. Ultimately, Federal prosecutors found no cause to bring criminal charges regarding the reported obstruction of the Moreland Commission.