NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio is being questioned by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in connection with a political corruption investigation.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, de Blasio was holding a news conference Wednesday on reducing pedestrian traffic deaths. He dramatically crossed a busy Brooklyn intersection with a teenager who had been hit by a car.
But the real drama came later when the mayor dropped a bomb, admitting that he is being questioned in connection with a corruption probe.
“The Manhattan DA’s office asked for an interview, and we did an interview,” de Blasio said. “We’ll get you the facts. It was a few weeks back.”
The mayor is asked every week if he has gone before the state and federal grand juries investigating corruption. On Wednesday, he gave his usual answer.
“To the grand jury? No, absolutely,” de Blasio said.
But when reporters probed further, he admitted, “Me and my lawyers” met with prosecutors in Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office.
Kramer: “How did it go? What did they ask you about?”
De Blasio: “I’m not going to characterize it. It was fine.”
Kramer: “Was it about campaign financing?”
De Blasio: “Again, guys, not going into any details. Lawyers can fill in for you. Just told you the factual answers to your question. Thanks everyone.”
Asked for more details, de Blasio press secretary Eric Phillips sent an email saying: “It was a voluntary discussion. Happened in late December. Declining further. Thanks.”
The two grand juries are looking at different things. The state is reportedly focusing on how team de Blasio raised money to help defeat state Senate Republicans, while the feds are allegedly studying whether the de Blasio administration did favors for donors.
Sources told CBS2 de Blasio told the DA he consulted with his lawyers and had their guidance before soliciting donations to help Democratic candidates. There is no indication he spoke to the feds.
Political experts wondered what effect, if any, the disclosure will have on de Blasio’s reelection campaign.
“From a political standpoint, it’s unseemly at this particular moment with the kind of investigations going,” said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. “When you go to prosecutors, you’re not talking about parking tickets.”
The mayor’s attorney did not return calls and emails seeking comment. The Manhattan DA’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s office both declined comment.