The quid pro quo definitely occurred. But while one of Bill de Blasio’s earliest and most generous donors will probably head to prison for a very long time, the New York City mayor will get off scot-free. Why?
The facts are damnable on their face. A restaurateur named Harendra Singh was trying to renegotiate the terms of his lease with the city. He owed millions in back rent for his restaurant, but rather than scrape that money together, Singh tried swindling the mayor instead. By all accounts, it worked.
Singh and his associates not only contributed more than $33,000 to the de Blasio campaign in 2015, they held a fundraiser for the mayor at the fancy restaurant on city property. In return, a De Blasio aide set up a July 30 meeting with Singh, a lobbyist, and the head of the administrative services department. According to court documents reviewed by the New York Times, the city was in the process of finalizing a favorable settlement.
Had the investigation continued, it might have revealed even more corruption. But the campaign donations and the arranged meeting were enough to convince law enforcement to nab Singh. In recently unsealed testimony, he confesses to everything.
“I gave these donations to the elected official in exchange for efforts by that official and other city officials to obtain a lease renewal from the city agency for my restaurant on terms that were favorable to me,” Singh admitted.
To recap quickly, a donor gave money for the express purpose of garnering favor with an elected official. Said elected official turned around and was in the process of delivering said special favors. But only the briber will face legal consequences. The bribed is more than likely going to run for president.
Last March, federal prosecutors gave up on the idea of bringing criminal charges against de Blasio, citing that difficulty of meeting a higher legal standard of “evidence of personal profit.” But the mayor won’t get off so easily. Next time he makes the rounds in Iowa or New Hampshire or Nevada, the Democrat will have to explain to voters about that one time one of his donors tried bribing him.