NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio is denying claims made by a former campaign donor, who said money bought him unfettered access to the mayor.
De Blasio called former donor Jona Rechnitz a liar Saturday.
“Jona Rechnitz has had his turn,” the mayor said. “Now, it’s my turn to tell the truth.”
“Jona Rechnitz is a liar and a felon. It is as simple as that. He is a convicted criminal,” he continued. “To save his own skin, he has lied about a number of things, including access to government officials. He has lied about the integrity of my administration.”
Rechnitz testified in court as the prosecution’s witness in the trial of former jail union boss Norman Seabrook, saying that by donating more than $100,000 to de Blasio’s campaign he was given direct access to the mayor.
According to Rechnitz, de Blasio gave him his personal cell phone number. When he asked for help, Rechnitz said the mayor’s staff would respond immediately.
De Blasio said Rechnitz is lying in court by far overstating the extent of their relationship.
“Never met him to memory before the fall of 2013. Only had contact with him for a year or a year and change. Never was close to him,” de Blasio countered.
Speaking of memory, the mayor seemed to suffer selective amnesia about an email uncovered by prosecutors that Rechnitz sent to de Blasio’s personal email address with the subject, ‘Norman under control,’ CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported.
Rechnitz testified under oath that after the mayor said he was upset with Seabrook’s attacks on his corrections commissioner, Joseph Ponte, Rechnitz got Seabrook to cool it.
“I have no memory of that,” de Blasio said. “I saw that report, I have no memory of that at all.”
Kramer asked the mayor’s press secretary if the ‘Norman under control’ email went to de Blasio’s account.
“Appears that way from what they showed in court,” Press Secretary Eric Phillips replied.
The mayor was also asked if he would make public every one of his meetings and phone calls with Rechnitz.
“No, I am just telling you because you always want everything, and I am not going to give it to you,” he said.
De Blasio was investigated by both the U.S. attorney and the Manhattan district attorney. No criminal charges were filed, even as one said the mayor acted on behalf of donors seeking favors and the other said his practices appeared to violate the “intent and spirit” of the law.
“These issues have been reviewed in very careful detail by a number of different authorities,” the mayor said. “There was an extensive investigation. The authorities passed on taking further action in those investigations.”
Although de Blasio called Rechnitz a liar, he said he would not ask the U.S. attorney to bring perjury charges against him.