A felon who now acts as a government witness in various racketeering cases, has exclaimed that his donations of some $160k to New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio gave him control as to who would be nominated for municipal positions.
Mr Jona Rechnitz, 34 years old, said as much in a Manhattan District court house while testifying at the bribery trial of former city correction-union chief Mr Norman Seabrook
“I always gave money, as long as I was seeing him produce results. Whenever we would call him for access or for a favor, we were getting the response that we expected and the results we were expecting.”
De Blasio’s spokesman, Mr Eric Phillips, has flatly denied the claims when he was questioned by the press: “These are nothing but reheated, repackaged accusations that have been extensively reviewed and passed on by authorities at multiple levels. The administration has never and will never make government decisions based on campaign contributions.”
At the said trial, Mr Rechnitz stands accused of bribing Mr Seabrook so he would invest $20 million in union pension money in a hedge fund tied to another one of Rechnitz’s friends, Mr Murray Huberfeld.
Mr Rechnitz circumvented the $4,950 cap on contributions from any single donor to the Mayor by using the various people working in his office: “I worked with straw donors. A couple of people in my office, I had them write checks, because I wasn’t allowed to give more than $4,950. And I reimbursed them for those donations.”
The trial at with Mr Rechnitz and Mr Seabrook are present, are part of a larger scandal which involves several high-ranking New York police officers, all accused of selling various services to businessmen.
The comments come at a bad time for Mr DeBlasio, who is up for re-election as Mayor of New York on 7 November.