Mayor de Blasio on Friday said he plans to set up a legal defense fund to cover the costs of his lawyers in state and federal investigations of his administration and fundraising.
“We have to do that. It’s the only way,” the mayor said when asked at an unrelated press conference in The Bronx whether he’d set up such a fund.
“I inform you again that I am not a billionaire like my predecessor. There’s no way I can possibly cover these fees personally,” de Blasio added.
“We have not yet set that up. When we do we have to raise money into it according to a set of rules. We have to disclose, we absolutely will disclose the money.”
Earlier in the day, City Hall released a “fact sheet” outlining his effort to cooperate with state and federal authorities — disclosing that he had neither sought nor been offered immunity.
The document largely repeated earlier statements from Hizzoner and his reps, including that he and his staff have cooperated fully with the probes and that no one did anything wrong.
The statement also said that the mayor — who had met with investigators from Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office — would meet with US Attorney Preet Bharara’s team in coming days.
Though both state and federal grand juries are hearing evidence in criminal probes into the de Blasio Administration over fundraising, the mayor repeatedly refers to the investigations only as “reviews.”
“The Mayor has never been informed that he is a target of these reviews,” the statement said, while not addressing whether he has been told he is not a target.
The statement also said that “no taxpayer dollars will be used to fund the Mayor’s individual compliance with these reviews.”
Others under investigation, however, are getting lawyers that could cost taxpayers more than $11.6 million.
The separate probes are examining whether de Blasio and his allies violated state campaign-finance laws in a failed bid to put a Democratic majority in the state Senate in 2014.
They are also investigating possible pay-to-play — if special favors were given to donors to the mayor’s now-shuttered nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York.
Vance’s office has been probing whether the mayor’s aides urged unions and wealthy supporters to fork over cash to Ulster and Putnam County Democratic state Senate campaign committees.
Those committees then allegedly funneled the money to specific Democratic candidates in tight races in an apparent bid to avoid campaign-donation limits.
Top de Blasio aide Emma Wolfe and fundraiser Ross Offinger, who’s now working as a consultant on the mayor’s 2017 re-election campaign, are also targets of the DA’s probe, according to public reports.
Bharara is separately investigating CONY, for which the mayor raised $4.3 million to promote his pet projects.Many of those donations came from individuals and firms with business interests before the city.
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