A New York City businessman claims Mayor Bill de Blasio told him to “call if there’s anything I need” in return for contributions.
Jona Rechnitz, convicted for paying for political favors from the city, told a Manhattan courtroom Thursday that he had special access to De Blasio, the New York Post reports.
Rechnitz says he promised de Blasio fundraiser Ross Offinger that “we’re gong to become significant contributors, but we want access.” That access came in the form of having de Blasio’s private cell phone number, which Rechnitz says he used weekly to talk with the mayor about “different issues in the city.” Thereafter the money started to flow to de Blasio — somewhere between $50,000 to $100,000, the Post reports.
“I e-mailed him on his personal e-mail. We would chat. I’d go to events of his. He invited me to events and put me in very good-seated areas. He took my calls. I mean, we were friends,” Rechnitz testified.
De Blasio has never acknowledged having Rechnitz as a close confidant, dismissing their relationship as “not a particularly close one,” though the convicted tycoon claims de Blasio told him “to call if there’s anything I need, always be in touch, and he really appreciated my support and friendship.”
Rechnitz says he made it clear that he would be there with the cash as long as the city delivered with favors. “I always gave money, as long as I was seeing him produce results,” he testified, referring to his liaisons with Offinger. “Whenever we would call him for access or for a favor, we were getting the response that we expected and the results we were expecting.”
No issue was too small to raise in conversation, according to Rechnitz, who said he once called for help with alleviating a hefty bill for municipal water services.
De Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips dismissed Rechnitz and his story. “These are nothing but reheated, repackaged accusations that have been extensively reviewed and passed on by authorities at multiple levels,” he told the Post.
In categorically denying pay for play, Phillips said, “The administration has never and will never make government decisions based on campaign contributions.”