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December 11, 2018

De Blasio refuses to say whether he deleted email from corrupt donor begging him not to fire NYPD official

November 30, 2018
Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) is pictured with Jona Rechnitz in an undated photo. (Court Document)

Mayor de Blasio has no clue how an email he received from a corrupt donor begging him to save the career of an NYPD boss disappeared — but insisted it wasn’t something anybody needed to see, anyway.

“I get lots of emails, and anything consequential, anything that has to do with government business, we try to move it to the government side, preserve the ones that need to be preserved. But there was nothing here that was consequential, that’s the bottom line,” de Blasio said Friday on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show.

But the email, sent from donor-turned-felon Jona Rechnitz to de Blasio’s personal e-mail account, was consequential enough to be introduced as evidence at the federal trial of an accused crooked cop.

In the note, Rechnitz — who had funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to de Blasio and his political pet projects — begged de Blasio to meet with him immediately in an effort to save the career of then-Chief of Department Philip Banks, who Rechnitz had also lavished with favors and gifts in an effort to win perks from police.

That e-mail was not among the ones turned over by de Blasio in response to a Freedom of Information Law request for his communications with Rechnitz. City Hall has said they failed to turn it over because they didn’t “have” the e-mail — implying it was deleted.

Front page of the New York Daily News for October 27, 2017 featuring Jona Rechnitz.
Front page of the New York Daily News for October 27, 2017 featuring Jona Rechnitz. (NYDN)

“I really don’t know the specifics of it,” de Blasio bristled when Lehrer asked if he or someone else had deleted it. “I just told you, anything we had, we turned over.”

City officials are required to retain emails for the length of their service or for eight years, depending on their roles, and then offer them to the municipal archives. But the mayor’s office has insisted those rules do not apply to them — pointing to a two-sentence policy that allows them to delete almost any email, as long as it is not another type of record protected by law.

While he couldn’t say where the e-mail went, de Blasio seemed sure about one thing: he didn’t think it was important.

“I think what’s important to recognize here is this has all been looked at, we do our best to be transparent, we’ve given out thousands of emails,” he said when asked if a note seeking a favor from a donor wasn’t city business. “I don’t know why people keep coming back to it, because it’s been covered and covered and covered that’s all I’ve got to say.”

But the note seeking a meeting about Banks — which Rechnitz testified under oath that he got, almost immediately, in the form of a rendezvous at the South Street Seaport — was a new revelation from Wednesday’s court testimony, as Lehrer noted.

“I just don’t think it’s a revelation, I think it’s been covered many, many times over,” de Blasio fumed.

De Blasio also dismissed Rechnitz as “someone who is a very troubled person who has committed crimes and has lied incessantly.”

But when asked whether Rechnitz was telling the truth about meeting with de Blasio to talk about Banks, City Hall declined to comment.

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