Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday he has been questioned by investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office who are probing the legality of how de Blasio and aides raised campaign money.
Speaking to reporters at a news conference about pedestrian safety in Brooklyn, de Blasio, a Democrat, said the interview involved “me and my lawyers” and occurred several weeks ago.
“The Manhattan DA’s office asked for an interview. We did an interview,” de Blasio said before his spokesman cut off questions and the mayor departed.
Emily Tuttle, a spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, declined to comment.
The district attorney’s probe reportedly is focusing on whether de Blasio or close aides broke state election law in 2014 by channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions through upstate political committees.
The money actually was intended for Democratic hopefuls as part of a failed bid to flip control of the State Senate from Republican to Democratic hands, according to published reports in December.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that the interview de Blasio acknowledged lasted 90 minutes, occurred on Dec. 23 and involved prosecutors who questioned de Blasio by showing him documents connected to the fundraising.
De Blasio, 55, said he has not testified before a grand jury and has not been notified he is a target of a probe.
“I’m not gonna characterize it. It was fine,” de Blasio said of the meeting, telling reporters Wednesday: “That’s good. Again, guys, not going into any details. Lawyers can fill in for you. I just told you the factual answer to your question.”
De Blasio repeatedly has maintained his innocence and said he expects to be exonerated.
His administration has been dealing for nearly a year with investigations by local, state and federal authorities examining the fundraising practices of de Blasio, aides and a defunct nonprofit created to boost his progressive agenda.
The Manhattan district attorney is reportedly one of two prosecutors’ offices that have convened grand juries to investigate the mayor and his team.
The other is the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, headed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
That probe is examining the circumstances surrounding the de Blasio’s team’s relationship with restaurateur and de Blasio donor Harendra Singh of Laurel Hollow.
Singh’s federal trial on bribery, tax evasion and obstruction of justice charges was put on indefinite hold earlier this month while he negotiates a plea. Singh is a key witness in a federal corruption case involving Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, his wife, Linda, and former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto. The Manganos and Venditto have pleaded not guilty.
According to published reports, Singh was nearly $2 million in arrears to the city on rent and fines for his Water’s Edge restaurant in Long Island City when the administration got involved.
Despite a desire by the city’s administrative services agency to evict Singh, he was working with the de Blasio administration to lower what he needed to pay.
Singh, his relatives and other associates donated more than $50,000 to de Blasio’s successful 2013 bid for mayor, and held two fundraisers at the restaurant.