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NYC mayor unsure when campaign violations probes will conclude

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference in the Bronx on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Mayor Bill de Blasio, buffeted by a report that criminal grand juries could be indicting members of his inner circle, said on Friday he’s unsure when the probes will conclude.

The separate grand juries are hearing testimony about potential campaign violations by the de Blasio team, according to a report in The New York Times.

“I don’t expect timelines. That is up to the folks doing the investigations,” de Blasio told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer on their weekly “#AskTheMayor” radio show. He added: “The only thing we care about is, getting to a resolution. I think the public would like to get to resolution as quickly as appropriate.”

The Times said the matters could wrap up in a matter of weeks.

De Blasio reiterated that he and his inner circle broke no laws in raising money for their unsuccessful bid to flip the GOP-controlled State Senate to Democratic hands during the 2014 election, nor were any laws broken when soliciting for his now-defunct political nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York, or his successful race for mayor.

“We never provided any undue favors or anything for anybody who was a donor. We made decisions on the merits. You can ask it 1,000 times, I’m going to answer the same way because that is exactly what happened,” he said.

According to The Times, the state probe is examining whether de Blasio, or his inner circle, broke state election law with donors’ six-figure contributions to be funneled to Democratic candidates.

De Blasio said a Democratic Senate would help him enact his policy priorities, such as tighter rent regulations and more below-market-rate housing.

“I was working diligently to elect a Democratic State Senate, which I think is what Democrats are supposed to do, and it would have been very good for everything we’re trying to do in New York City,” he said.

The Times also reported that the federal probe is examining whether donors to the nonprofit or his 2013 mayoral campaign received any undue benefit in exchange for giving. The nonprofit raised money without the strict limits on the size of donations that New York City law imposes on electoral campaigns.

Long Island businessman Harendra Singh is among the people de Blasio is being investigated for potentially giving improper favors, according to The Times. Singh’s ties to Oyster Bay Town earlier this year led to federal indictments of town Supervisor John Venditto, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Mangano’s wife, Linda Mangano.

Hours after his Friday radio appearance, de Blasio walked out of his own news conference in the Bronx when reporters tried to ask him about the grand jury probes.

“No, not today. I’ll talk to you next week,” he said during a news conference about providing free Internet-enabled tablets to public-housing residents in the Bronx.

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