Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign has lawyered up.
Following news reports that the U.S. Justice Department is probing his campaign finances, de Blasio has instructed a lawyer representing his 2013 mayoral campaign, Barry Berke, to call federal prosecutors on the mayor’s behalf.
“He reached out at my request and simply said, we’d like to be helpful in anyway we can — happy to provide any information that would be helpful,” de Blasio, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, said Wednesday.
Berke is a white-collar lawyer who once represented former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik in a federal corruption case in which he was convicted.
A source familiar with the matter said the campaign retained Berke on Tuesday and he made the call the same day.
The office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is reportedly scrutinizing the activities of businessmen Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz, who were donors to de Blasio or his campaigns, and who are at the center of a widening scandal involving the NYPD and allegedly improper gifts given by the duo.
The investigation is scrutinizing donations to a nonprofit set up for de Blasio to further his policy agenda, sources said. Bharara is also reportedly probing a controversial land deal involving the removal of a restrictive deed on former AIDS housing that is becoming luxury condos, a matter in which a top fundraiser, James Capalino, played a lobbying role.
De Blasio said of the call by Berke: “I believe the message was fully received.”
The mayor noted that “there’s been no requests of any kind or no contact of any kind to us” by Bharara’s office.