Pay-to-play schemes have become increasingly common in modern politics, especially on the Left side of the aisle.
These schemes see politicians utilizing their political office to obtain donations in exchange for their time, power and/or favors. According to The New York Post, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was discovered to have been involved in his own pay-to-play scheme after a number of emails came to light on Friday.
The emails were obtained by court order as part of an investigation into Jona Rechnitz, who pled guilty to engaging in a pay-to-play scheme with the New York Police Department, according to The New York Daily News. Rechnitz wrote to de Blasio, ironically seeking a spot on the Commission to Combat Police Corruption, while seeking favors from the NYPD through gift donations.
On Friday, the emails were obtained and released to the public, via a Freedom of Information request, and give insight into the corruption running rampant through de Blasio’s office.
Before the emails were released, de Blasio maintained that he was not engaging in pay-to-play with Rechnitz and others. “It’s not a particularly close relationship,” he said. “I met them first around the time of the general election. I hadn’t known them previously, really haven’t seen them in the last year or more. They supported the effort.”
The emails contradict de Blasio’s statement and show he participated in pay-to-play schemes with Rechnitz and others a number of times.
Rechnitz was a steady donor to de Blasio’s mayoral campaigns and causes. He donated $50,000 to the One New York non-profit campaign, and he and his wife donated $9,900 each to de Blasio’s 2013 campaign for mayor. They also spent $102,300 in an attempt to help Democrats control the state Senate.
These and other donations gave Rechnitz access to the Mayor’s office and a number of favors.
In 2014, Rechnitz was accused of using one of his buildings as an illegal hotel and he obtained a special audience with the mayor to resolve the matter after making a donation. He also had a friend’s application for the position of buildings commissioner streamlined directly to de Blasio’s chief of staff.
Another individual to have received special treatment was Jeremy Reichberg, a friend of Rechnitz. He asked the mayor for help with a $650,000 water bill. The bill was lowered to $125,304 with an explanation that the excessive amount was due to a “problem” with the meter. Even more suspicious is that Reichberg had donated over $40,000 to de Blasio’s effort to control the state senate in 2014.
After the emails were released, City Hall spokesman Eric Phillips, said there’s nothing to the allegations, as many of the requests made were denied. “These two people at times voice the concerns of their community,” Phillips said. “It’s City Hall’s responsibility to have communication with people like that. At the end of the day, they asked for things large and small from city government and didn’t get them.”
The repeated occurrence of these instances of special favors given to donors, Rechnitz pleading guilty to seeking special treatment, and the emails directly contradicting the mayor’s assurances that he’s not participating in pay-to-play corruption, all cast significant suspicion on the Mayor and his office.
An investigation should be conducted into Bill de Blasio to see just how many of these pay-to-play schemes he’s been involved in.