By LOUIS FLORES
The office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara had no public comment to make following a report published in The New York Post, summarizing how Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) has been enabling a gaggle of lobbyists to feast on what should be the honest services of city government.
Lobbyists either seeking to keep unpopular Battery Park helicopter tours ; to launch a money-making and green space-destroying, over-crowded music festival on public park land ; or to expand the non-union Uber car service company are getting their way with City Hall simply by lining the campaign till of Mayor de Blasio.
In proving corruption cases based on the theft of honest services, prosecutors have to show a quid pro quo, or a “I’ll give you this, if you give me that” exchange was made. To prove a crime, it must be shown that special interests are paying bribe money to a government official in exchange for receiving official government acts asked by the special interests.
The report in The New York Post revealed that one lobbyist, James Capalino, paid $10,000 to Mayor de Blasio’s controversial nonprofit lobbying arm, the Campaign for One New York, and was granted a meeting the very next day with the mayor, during which time Mr. Capalino lobbyied against a proposed ban on the Battery Park helicopter tours. In the time since, the proposed legislation banning the helicopter tours has become stalled without explanation. The New York City Council is run by Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Spanish Harlem), whom Mayor de Blasio personally installed as Council speaker, so that he could assert undue influence over the municipal legislative body.
Because campaign contributions are being made by lobbyists at the time when City Hall is determining public policy affecting the lobbyists' clients, the making of the campaign contributions appears to be material to the making of government policy, raising questions about whether government policy is being determined as a consequence of the campaign contributions being made by lobbyists.
When asked by Progress Queens on Monday whether the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New York’s southern district would be investigating the information in the report published by The New York Post, a spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Bharara declined to comment.