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Developers shell out $65K to settle ethics complaint over contributions to shady de Blasio nonprofit Campaign for One New York

2019-09-19

Developers with city contracts who flouted state pay-to-play laws by donating to Mayor de Blasio’s shady political nonprofit were docked thousands of dollars, the state ethics watchdog said Thursday.

Brookfield Financial Properties, Toll Brothers and an LLC affiliated with Park Tower Group agreed to cough up a combined $65,000 to settle a years-long investigation into de Blasio’s “Campaign for One New York” by the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

State law bars lobbyists and their clients from giving gifts to a public official or to third parties on behalf of or at the recommendation of a public official ?— in this case, de Blasio.

The latest round of settlements in the probe comes after city investigators found de Blasio had violated conflict-of-interest rules — though he and his aides escaped criminal charges because prosecutors couldn’t prove criminal intent. The mayor’s election lawyer had told him it was OK.

The mayor, who refused to comment Thursday, launched Campaign for One New York shortly before he took office in 2014, with the stated goal of advocating for his agenda like universal pre-K.

But it soon came under scrutiny for taking donations from companies with business before the city.

De Blasio and his former campaign official Ross Offinger met with a Park Tower executive while the developer was working on a mixed affordable and luxury housing complex called Greenpoint Landing.

After Offinger told the developer how to donate to Campaign for One New York, Park Tower coughed up $50,000 in March 2015, according to JCOPE.

A Park Tower affiliate called Greenpoint Landing Developers, LLC agreed to pay $20,000 to settle the JCOPE investigation.

Brookfield also worked on Greenpoint landing, and gave $50,000 to de Blasio’s political nonprofit — which Common Cause called a “shadow government” — following “a recommendation made by, or on behalf of the Mayor,” JCOPE said.

Brookfield agreed to pay $30,000.

The mayor personally hit up a Toll Brothers executive for a contribution, according to the state ethics watchdog, and the developer complied on the order of $25,000.

Toll Brothers, which was developing along the route for Hizzoner’s planned Brooklyn Queens Connector streetcar, agreed to settle for $15,000.

Brookfield, Greenpoint Landing and Toll Brothers didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

De Blasio ignored questions about the settlements from a reporter at City Hall on Thursday afternoon after speaking to a tour group from Europe in the rotunda with state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

He walked away from reporters and returned to the mayor’s wing of City Hall without acknowledging questions.

De Blasio’s political fundraising — including for the Campaign for One New York — was the subject of multiple investigations. Federal and state prosecutors eventually decided against charging de Blasio or his aides, but one still said he intervened on behalf of donors seeking favors from City Hall.

Other Campaign for One New York donors — lobbyist James Capalino and leaders of NYCLASS, an animal rights group — settled with JCOPE in April 2018.