The mayor suffered another bout of memory loss regarding ethical lapses Tuesday, insisting he couldn’t remember a secret 2015 meeting he had with the city’s biggest lobbyist and nine of his clients.
The meeting — first revealed Monday in a report by the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) — occurred in a basement dining room at the now-defunct City Hall restaurant in lower Manhattan on Sept. 28, sources told the Daily News.
That was after de Blasio had solicited donations from the lobbyist, James Capalino.
Capalino and his clients then donated $10,000 each for a total of $100,000 to the mayor’s now-defunct non-profit Campaign for One New York.
After the money was raised, Capalino provided de Blasio’s aide, Ross Offinger, with a list of the donors and got Offinger to set up the in-person breakfast meeting with the mayor.
The meeting was not disclosed on the mayor’s public lists that de Blasio claims shows all his meetings with lobbyists.
On Tuesday at an unrelated press conference, the mayor was able to remember that “everything was handled appropriately” but couldn’t recall anything else.
“I don’t remember what we discussed at that meeting. That was years ago,” he said.
On Monday night his aides had said there was no lobbying at the meeting, implying that at least someone remembers what happened.
Asked Tuesday how his meeting with a lobbyist and nine lobbyist clients who’d donated $100,000 to his cause at his request had nothing to do with lobbying, the mayor got testy.
“You can ask in whatever dramatic tone you want, but when I am lobbied by a lobbyist I disclose it; a city lobbyist lobbying me on any matter I disclose it,” he responded. “As I’ve made very clear, in recent times I don’t talk to city lobbyists about their clients any more. But I voluntarily disclose everything has been put out there previously and everything has been handled appropriately.”
Several of the donor participants in the breakfast meeting with the Capalino and the mayor were developers seeking help from City Hall on various projects.
Last month the lobbyist, Capalino, agreed to pay $40,000 to JCOPE to settle an investigation into allegations that he had provided the mayor with illegal gifts, the commission revealed Monday. The JCOPE investigation is continuing.
Last year the Manhattan U.S. Attorney and Manhattan District Attorney closed investigations into de Blasio’s fund-raising practices without bringing charges.
The federal prosecutors, however, said they found the mayor and his subordinates had intervened on behalf of donors seeking help from City Hall. The DA found de Blasio’s tactics were in violation of the “spirit” of campaign finance laws.
In the last few months two donors have testified under oath that they raised donations and wrote checks for de Blasio and got favorable treatment in return.
De Blasio has consistently stated his fund-raising protocols were approved by his lawyers and he’s labeled as liars the donors who accused him of pay to play.
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