The U.S. Attorney’s investigation into Mayor de Blasio’s fundraising took a surprising turn Wednesday as the mayor’s former campaign manager — who now runs an agency looking into some of the players — suddenly announced he would not bow out of the probe.
Mark Peters, treasurer of de Blasio’s 2013 campaign for mayor, was appointed by the mayor as commissioner of the Department of Investigation. DOI is one of several law enforcement agencies now looking into whether two de Blasio donors illegally solicited favors from NYPD brass.
One of the donors, Jona Rechnitz, was a bundler for the mayor’s 2013 campaign, collecting checks from others that totaled $41,650 and, with his wife, personally contributing another $9,900 in October 2013. At the time, Peters was de Blasio’s campaign treasurer.
Mark Peters’ office said the questionable donations to the de Blasio campaign were made when he was no longer its treasurer.
In January 2015 — after Peters was no longer the mayor’s treasurer — Rechnitz gave another $50,000 to Campaign for One New York, a political non-profit that raised millions to show support for the mayor’s pet projects such as affordable housing and universal pre-K.
Rechnitz is being investigated by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for possibly showering cops with illegal gifts in exchange for favors. Bharara is also looking into de Blasio’s fundraising, though it’s not clear exactly what he’s focusing on.
Ex-NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks (c.) was showered with gifts from the two men at the center of the scandal, businessmen Jeremy Reichberg (l.) and Jona Rechnitz (r.).
On Wednesday, after the Daily News asked Peters about all of this, his office released a statement saying there was no need for him to step away from the ongoing probe because the matters under investigation involve donations made when he was no longer the mayor’s treasurer:
“The allegations of wrongdoing regarding campaign finance post-date Commissioner Peters’ involvement with the campaign. His recusal at this time would only serve to impede DOI’s active investigation of this matter. Given the arrests made and multiple reports issued by DOI criticizing the current administration, the suggestion that DOI is not acting with integrity or independently is wholly inaccurate.”