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Federal, state prosecutors will not charge Mayor Bill de Blasio in fundraising probe

Posted at 9:46 AM, Mar 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-16 13:47:02-04

NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio will not face federal or state charges following an investigation into campaign fundraising, officials announced Thursday.

The federal investigation focused on whether the mayor traded favors for donations during his 2013 election campaign, the campaign for One New York and the 2014 state senate effort, acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement.

“After careful deliberation, given the totality of the circumstances here and absent additional evidence, we do not intend to bring federal criminal charges against the Mayor or those acting on his behalf relating to the fundraising efforts in question,” Kim said.

State officials were concerned with whether election laws were violated by directing campaign donations to county committees.

No charges will be filed, but a review of the investigation was damning:

“This conclusion is not an endorsement of the conduct at issue; indeed, the transactions appear contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits, laws which are meant to prevent ‘corruption and the appearance of corruption’ in the campaign financing process,” according to state Board of Elections District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

The federal probe began following a criminal referral from the lead investigator at the state Board of Elections.

De Blasio has accused the board of conducting a politically motivated witch hunt. The investigator was appointed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a frequent de Blasio rival.

The mayor previously said the probe won’t have an impact on his decision to run for re-election. Mayoral spokesperson Eric Phillips said de Blasio has been confident from the beginning that his actions, and the actions of the entire Administration, had been within the law.

“The United States Attorney and Manhattan District Attorney have now put to rest any suggestion otherwise,” Phillips said. “New Yorkers deserve honest, progressive government. With this Mayor, they will always get it.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office felt it necessary to release Thursday’s statement because of the re-election decision.

“Although it is rare that we issue a public statement about the status of an investigation, we believe it appropriate in this case at this time, in order not to unduly influence the upcoming campaign and Mayoral election,” Kim said.

Thursday’s decisions come three weeks after de Blasio was questioned by then-U.S. Attorney General Preet Bharara.

The federal investigation was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI.