New York, NY – Just days after being interviewed for more than four hours by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the meeting went well during a weekly Monday with the Mayor segment with NY1’s Errol Louis.
de Blasio told Louis that he had pledged his cooperation to Preet Bharara’s investigation months ago and was “happy to go in and recount the facts.”
The mayor, who took time off from work on Wednesday and Thursday to prepare for the lengthy interview, said that he felt confident that he and his office had committed no wrongdoings.
“I know we have done everything appropriately,” said de Blasio. “I know we have done everything legally. We have held ourselves to high ethical standards and I was very comfortable going over everything I knew.”
Louis questioned the mayor about his personal involvement in lifting restrictions on a yeshiva building as a favor to Moshe Indig, an influential leader from the Aaronites Satmar community who was a substantial contributor to de Blasio’s campaign and his now closed Campaign for One New York fund.
According to the New York Post (http://nyp.st/2mHK5pT) the school in question was placed under a partial vacate order in December 2014 after inspectors found illegal classrooms in the building’s basement. The order was rescinded six days later on Christmas Eve after the Brooklyn building commissioner showed up to do a personal inspection and a source claimed that Indig asked the mayor to intervene, charges that were categorically denied by City Hall.
Responding to Louis, the mayor noted that during his tenure in public office, as a city councilman, public advocate and, now as mayor, he has had no compunctions about bringing up an issue to a particular agency but that his involvement goes no farther than that.
“It is perfectly fair to put forward concerns from community members whether they are civic leaders, faith leaders, business leaders, but agencies have to make the decision that they think is best,” observed de Blasio.
Asked if the reports about his possibly participation in lifting restrictions on the school were accurate, de Blasio cut Louis short, saying he was not going to get into the specifics.
“I think anything under investigation it’s not my place to go into all the details,” said de Blasio. “I’m giving you the broad strokes.”
The ties between de Blasio and Indig go back several years and in a 2013 campaign rally, de Blasio described Indig as a trusted friend of many years. Politico (http://politi.co/2lQohLf) reported that Indig reportedly helped deliver a crucial 7,500 votes from the Satmar community to the mayor during the 2013 primary after de Blasio vowed to rescind metzitzah b’peh regulations put in place by then-mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“He told me to announce to our community that he is the only mayor candidate that promised metzitzah b’peh,” said Indig at the time. “What Bloomberg did to it, he will right away take away. We will not have his meeting with the lawyers. Hs meeting will be with the rabbis and right away it will be eliminated. He is the mayor for New York City.”
de Blasio kept his promise as mayor, prompting Indig to laud him as a man of his word and to praise for restoring “the American ideal of religious freedom to its original beauty.”