De Blasio lawyers up amid state, FBI fund-raising probes

Mayor de Blasio has lawyered up — at the same time that a new report says the feds are looking into whether he used “straw donors” during his 2013 run. 

And, in more trouble for the mayor — he’ll have to hire someone else to help spin the bad news.

His press secretary Karen Hinton is leaving the administration after less than a year on the job, City Hall announced late Thursday.

Her sudden resignation — after rampant rumors of inner turmoil in his press shop — was announced hours after Hizzoner issued a news release saying he’d hired white collar lawyer Barry Berke to represent him in the ongoing federal and state probe into his fund-raising.


Berke had been representing de Blasio’s 2013 campaign and will now handle that along with the mayor personally.

No city dollars will be used to defend de Blasio.

That’s good news since Berke — who repped disgraced former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik in his unsuccessful battle against corruption charges — charges $850 an hour.

De Blasio’s campaign will pick up the tab, a move allowed under the state election law.

De Blasio made Berke his designee to the Lincoln Center board of directors, and in July 2014 tried to nominate another Kramer Levin staffer, Marcie Kesner, to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. That appointment collapsed over conflict questions.

At the same time, Kramer Levin has lobbied the office of the mayor, the city Department of Planning and the Board of Standards and Appeals for many real estate interests.


In the fight with Public School 163 parents — an Upper West Side school fighting to stop the owner of a toxic lot and developer who want to put a nursing home nearby — Kramer Levin represented both the owner of the W. 97th St. parking lot, PWV Owners LLC, and Jewish Home Lifecare, the nursing home group that wants to build the 20-story facility.

In addition, the city’s Law Department is hiring two outside law firms to deal with the multi-pronged probe, which includes Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. as well as U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office.

The firms Debevoise & Plimpton and Carter Ledyard & Milburn will be paid for by taxpayers, but the cost has not been determined, officials said.

De Blasio’s fund-raising has come under intense scrutiny from law enforcement as part of several overlapping probes, including one into his role in raising money for the 2014 state Senate races.


The mayor has denied any wrongdoing and said he’s confident he and his aides have followed all the rules.

Meanwhile, authorities are looking at donations to de Blasio’s 2013 campaign for possible “straw donors,” an illegal fund-raising tactic used to circumvent campaign finance limits, according to a DNAInfo report.

A straw donor is someone who illegally uses another person’s money to make a political contribution in their name.

The sources declined to say which 2013 donations are being looked at, but the website reported that a few from the busy post-primary and transition period looked fishy.

“We are reviewing the donations and will take any appropriate action,” a spokesman for the mayor said.

The mayor, who did not take questions from reporters on Thursday, praised his departing aide Hinton in a statement for serving “with skill, with devotion, with a passionate commitment to others.”

“She will be missed,” he added.

Hinton said she was “proud” of her time at City Hall, and leaving to spend time with her daughter, a high school senior.

“While I have to admit she is not missing me that much, I am missing her a great deal and want to be part of her last year at home before college,” she said.

Officials said her decision to leave had nothing to do with the investigations. 

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de blasio campaign finance ,
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