De Blasio dodges federal charges in campaign fundraising probe

 

He pushed the limits of the law — but in the end Bill de Blasio won.

The mayor and his aides dodged federal and state charges stemming from their campaign fundraising practices — even though they violated the “intent and spirit” of election law, authorities announced Thursday.

Putting an end to separate, yearlong probes, Acting US Attorney Joon Kim — who took the reins last week when Preet Bharara was fired by President Trump — and Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr. released coordinated statements saying they were dropping cases against de Blasio and his aides

But even as he announced the end of the criminal probe, Vance offered a harsh rebuke to de Blasio’s fundraising efforts during the 2014 state Senate r

aces, when he skirted around caps on donations to individual candidates by funneling money through Democratic counties.

“This conclusion is not an endorsement of the conduct at issue; indeed, the transactions appear contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits,” Vance said.

But because they relied on advice from their election-law attorney, prosecutors couldn’t determine that they “willfully” broke the law.

While the state investigation focused on upstate fundraising, Bharara’s office had been probing whether de Blasio and his aides had been part of pay-to-play schemes, doling out favors in exchange for donations to his 2013 campaign or his now-shuttered non-profit the Campaign for One New York.

That wide-ranging inquiry also delved into the lifting of a city deed restriction on Rivington House, which allowed for the long-protected nursing home to be converted into luxury condos. De Blasio’s dealings with donors who wanted to ban horse carriages were also being probed.

Kim’s statement pointed out that there were “several circumstances” in which de Blasio “made or directed inquiries to relevant City agencies on behalf of” donors seeking official favors from the city.

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