Mayor Bill de Blasio has distanced himself from two real estate investors implicated in a corruption probe involving the NYPD.
In a press conference on Monday, de Blasio said that he had “spent very little time” with Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg.
The two men were said to have given cash and Super Bowl tickets to high-ranking NYPD officers in exchange for favors such as police security for jewelry deliveries.
Rechnitz — who worked for diamond billionaire Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel before launching his own real estate investment firm, JSR Capital — was a prolific donor for Mayor de Blasio. He contributed $50,000 to the Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit group that raised money for the mayor’s projects. He and his wife also contributed $9,900 to de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign.
Reichberg, meanwhile, once hosted a Campaign for One New York fundraiser in his Borough Park home. The event raised $35,000 in donations, according to a New York Post report.
For their effort, the pair was named to de Blasio’s inauguration committee, an honor that they shared with celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Steve Buscemi and Susan Sarandon.
On Monday, de Blasio denied that their contributions yielded anything more than an honorary title, saying that, as far as he knew, no favors were extended to the two men.
“I know of no favorable municipal action that they got,” he said.
He also denied having extensive contact with Rechnitz and Reichberg. He claims he only met the pair during the election and they’ve hardly seen each other since.
“In terms of these two individuals, as I said, I met them around the time of the general election — had not known them previously — have spent very little time with them in the scheme of things and not much at all in the last year,” he said.
In spite of the FBI investigation expanding to his fundraising practices, the mayor has yet to seek legal counsel. He characterized the need for representation as “theoretical.”
“I have not done anything in terms of reaching out for counsel because there is no reason to reach out for counsel,” he said.
“We are very, very careful about doing things in a legal and appropriate manner. We’re very, very careful about disclosing the support we get. We believe in that. We know there’s lots and lots of money that flows into the political process that’s undisclosed. I find that reprehensible.
‘We disclose everything. And we welcome questions about it. That’s part of what the kind of transparency all of you in the public deserve.”
De Blasio, who grew irritated as he faced a string of questions about the two men, used Monday’s press conference to take a vow of silence. He said that he will no longer make comments about the case.
“Because the question have been asked and answered about something that, from my experience, is absolutely theoretical at this point, and there’s nothing else to say. We’ve comported ourselves with the highest standards of integrity,” he said.
The corruption investigation has been ongoing for the past two years. It involves the FBI, the Department of Justice and the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau.
Shortly after details of the investigation became public, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton removed four officers from their posts. Deputy Inspector James Grant and Deputy Chief Michael Harrington were stripped of their guns and badges and placed on modified duty. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief David Colon and Deputy Chief Eric Rodriguez were both transferred.
Neither Rechnitz nor Reichberg responded to requests for comment.