BROOKLYN — With just weeks to go before New York's mayoral election, Mayor Bill de Blasio is both defiant and defensive about claims made by a donor who said he bought access his donations.
"Jona Rechnitz had his turn now it is my turn to tell the truth," de Blasio said at a hastily arranged news conference in Brooklyn Saturday.
He came out swinging against the deep-pocketed fundraiser. Rechnitz gave explosive testimony alleging that City Hall was for sale in a pay-to-play corruption scheme:
"Jona Rechnitz is a liar and he’s a convicted felon,” the mayor said, adding “to save his own skin he has lied."
The mayor called Rechnitz’s testimony of weekly phone calls false and said he is exaggerating in many ways the influence he wielded at City Hall in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations.
“He did not call me once a week,” the mayor said. “We were not close. I remember a handful of times in person and a handful of times on the phone. Not once a week, nothing like once a week.” de Blasio added.
De Blasio said he had never been close to the real estate developer who was on the stand for two days as a government witness in the bribery trial of former city correction union chief Norman Seabrook.
The Mayor noted that the Manhattan U.S. attorney had not brought any charges against him. He didn't mention that prosecutors made clear that they found the mayor went to bat for donors seeking favors from City Hall.
And about this political donor, the mayor says, “I wish I never met the guy. He turned out he’s a thorough liar.”