Mayor's nonprofit group stops cooperating with ethics probe

AP News
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Posted: May 06, 2016 6:22 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A nonprofit group created to promote the political agenda of Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio will no longer cooperate with a state ethics probe because the probe has become a "blatantly political exercise," the group's lawyer said in a letter Friday to investigators.

In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, Campaign for One New York attorney Laurence Laufer says Joint Commission on Public Ethics investigators have overreached by seeking records beyond whether the group engaged in prohibited lobbying, including fundraising.

Laufer said the group has responded for a year to the commission's requests related to lobbying.

"We have now reached a new phase that is unjustified under the law and unsupported by the facts," he wrote, arguing the probe "has obviously become a blatantly political exercise by an agency whose very independence is deeply in question."

He said the group will continue to cooperate with federal and state prosecutors in Manhattan who are examining its fundraising and other activities.

The commission's executive director, Seth Agata, said it is operating within its jurisdiction and opened an investigation after good-government groups and newspaper articles raised questions about the nonprofit group, which can accept unlimited contributions from entities with business before the city.

"These are activities that were brought to our attention, and we have a legal obligation to look into the extent that such activities constitute lobbying," he said.

A spokesman for the nonprofit group, which is shutting down, declined to comment.

De Blasio, speaking to WNYC's "The Brian Lehrer Show," said he would continue to cooperate with various investigations surrounding his administration and campaign activities.

"We want to see these issues examined, and we want answers, and we want to be done as quickly as possible," he said.

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Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.


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