By JON REMACHE
Mayor Bill de Blasio ducked a barrage of questions from reporters at a raucous press conference on Thursday and steadfastly denied any wrongdoing in the wake of news that federal and state prosecutors had dropped ongoing investigations into his fund-raising tactics while criticizing him for appearing to violate “the intent and spirit of the law.”
Both Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance Jr.’s and acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim’s decisions were based on the absence of “evidence of personal profit” and the difficulty of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
But the prosecutors’ unusual statements on de Blasio’s and his associates’ actions during the 2013 mayoral race and 2014 state senate races provided the mayor with something less than a clean bill of health, noting, in Vance’s words, that dropping the investigation was “not an endorsement of the conduct at issue.”
Still de Blasio portrayed the news as a complete vindication.
“We comported ourselves in a legal and appropriate and ethical manner,” he told reporters. “This situation has been resolved and now we gotta get back to work serving the people in New York City 24/7.”
As to the suggestions by prosecutors of ethical if not legally-provable lapses, the mayor said, “I believe they have an assessment. I don’t share their assessment, but most importantly they confirmed they had to make a judgment on whether anything inappropriate happened and their judgment was it did not.”
The mayor grew testy when pressed by reporters to say whether he would reform his tactics in future election campaigns, asserting that it was normal practice to serve constituents whether they were donors or not.
But, he added, “we have no plans to use that methodology going forward.”
The initial subject matter of the press conference — President Trump”s plan and it’s “negative” effect on local programs — was lost in the shuffle.
The focus always shifted to de Blasio’s upcoming re-election campaign which he portrayed by saying, “more and more of our energy is going into grassroots donations.”