Two separate grand juries in Manhattan, one federal and one state, have reportedly started hearing testimonies relating to criminal investigations into Democratic New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign fundraising with possible pay-to-play violations.
According to the New York Times, these grand jury actions represent “the strongest indication” yet that indictments could be forthcoming.
The Times wrote, “[i]t was unclear whether either inquiry would result in criminal charges against the mayor, but the grand jury activity appeared to be the strongest indication since the investigations came to light in April that prosecutors may be moving closer to one or more indictments, possibly against some of Mr. de Blasio’s closest aides,” including his “top political aide” Emma Wolfe and his finance director Ross Offinger.
The information was provided “on the condition of anonymity because grand jury proceedings are secret,” wrote the Times. The testimonies were reportedly given by former or current city officials who are knowledgable about at least one of the incidents involving potential pay-to-play behaviors.
At the state level, it is alleged that de Blasio, and several of his senior aides, may have funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars through upstate New York county committees and passed it through to Democratic candidates during the party’s unsuccessful bid to regain control of the State Senate from Republicans in 2014. The move, if proven, is in stark violation of state election law.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is reportedly conducting the state inquiry.
The federal investigation, which was launched by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, is reportedly examining whether de Blasio or his aides conducted political favors for donors in exchange for contributions made to his 2013 mayoral campaign.
These two investigations are part of five that were initially brought upon de Blasio and his staff and which have for the most part dealt with fundraising by the mayor and organizations that are affiliated with his office.
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