By LOUIS FLORES
A fundraiser for a campaign committee under reported Federal corruption investigation appears to be having trouble attracting donors.
New York City Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) is reportedly hosting a fundraiser to benefit the committee to reëlect Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) on Wednesday evening at Jackson Diner, a popular restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Over the course of eight days in the time leading up to Wednesday evening's fundraiser, Councilmember Dromm has set at least four mass e-mail invitations to his followers from his own campaign e-mail account, asking his followers to R.S.V.P. to attend the fundraiser. The mass e-mail invitations supplement other entreaties to attract attendees.
The possibility that Councilmember Dromm is under pressure to pack Jackson Diner mirrors past unsuccessful efforts to raise money for Mayor de Blasio's campaign committee. In May, Mayor de Blasio's supporters were unable to fill a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, bowling alley for a campaign fundraiser hosted by the comedian Louis C.K., according to a report published by The New York Post.
Councilmember Dromm's fundraising for Mayor de Blasio follow efforts last November to stack the audience of a town hall meeting in Jackson Heights with only political supporters, as noted in a report published by Progress Queens.
According to several news reports, Mayor de Blasio is the subject of a wide-ranging, Federal corruption investigation, one aspect of which is reportedly looking into the mayor's campaign finance activities.
It is not known whether the reported Federal corruption investigation is deterring Councilmember Dromm's political supporters from contributing to Mayor de Balsio's campaign committee or from attending Wednesday evening's fundraiser.
Councilmember Dromm's communication director, Michael Mallon, did not answer a request for an interview made by Progress Queens for this report. Amongst the questions submitted in advance to Mr. Mallon, which Mr. Mallon avoided answering, was whether Councilmember Dromm was potentially putting his own political supporters at risk of investigation by asking that they contribute to a campaign committee that has reportedly been identified as the subject of a Federal corruption probe.
It is also not known how Federal prosecutors are able to procedurally distinguish innocent, third party campaign contributors from other campaign contributors, the latter, who may be being targeted for investigation. The press office for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who is reportedly leading an investigation of Mayor de Blasio's campaign finance activities, did not answer a question seeking information about how general Federal procedures would identify innocent bystanders in a hypothetical Federal corruption investigation. However, on Monday, Federal law enforcement agents arrested several officers with the New York Police Department, as well as Jeremy Reichberg, a prominent campaign contribution bundler for Mayor de Blasio.
During the conduct of investigations, U.S. Attorneys generally consult guidelines provided in the U.S. Attorneys' Manual, a handbook that describes procedures applicable to Federal prosecutors. One section in the U.S. Attorneys' Manual references consideration that must be weighed by Federal prosecutors in respect of investigations that may lead to collateral damage as a consequence of a decision to indict an enterprise. If prosecutors seek the conviction of a corporation, for example, prosecutors must consider the potential fallout for innocent third parties, according to § 9-28.1100 - Collateral Consequences of the U.S. Attorneys' Manual. Hesitancy over causing damage to innocent third parties became a major consideration for Federal prosecutors following the collapse of Arthur Anderson, the accounting firm and auditor of energy derivatives trading firm Enron Corporation, following Arthur Anderson's indictment in relation to the Federal criminal investigation of Enron. Although the Arthur Anderson case and the section of U.S. Attorneys' Manual refer to corporations, the U.S. Department of Justice may have a similar sensitivity against indicting an entire campaign committee that may have unintended consequences for innocent bystanders. Whether or not Federal prosecutors may definitely have such a sensibility about campaign committees is unknown ; a specific advance question about such a sensibility was submitted by Progress Queens to the press office of the U.S. Attorney's Office, but the press office did not answer the request for information.
As a way to avoid unfavourable press coverage of Mayor de Blasio's stumbling fundraising efforts, fundraising hosts have been closing the events to the press, including one fundraiser held only on Tuesday evening in Battery Park City, according to a report broadcast by the journalist Grace Rauh for the cable news network, NY1.
Wednesday evening's planned fundraiser was first alluded to in the press in a report filed by the journalist Dana Rubenstein for POLITICO New York in which it was revealed that Mayor de Blasio's campaign fundraising strategy was shifting emphasis from raising contributions from big money donors to focusing on small money donors.