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Malliotakis calls for a freeze of de Blasio’s matching campaign funds

GOP mayoral candidate says Campaign Finance Board should hold money after witness testifies in bribery case he steered contributions to de Blasio.

Republican NYC mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis at a

Republican NYC mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis at a news conference on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, called for a freeze on Mayor Bill de Blasio's matching campaign funds. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis called on the city’s Campaign Finance Board to freeze incumbent Bill de Blasio’s taxpayer-funded matching campaign funds following a former donor’s testimony in a federal corruption trial last week that he steered contributions to the mayor’s 2013 campaign.

“I think if the CFB wants to maintain the trust of the public, if they want to maintain the trust of the taxpayers who are the ones who are paying for matching funds in city races, and they want to preserve the integrity of CFB and the reason it was created in the first place — to take money out of politics — then they owe it to the taxpayers of this city to freeze the money now,” Malliotakis said at a Tuesday news conference outside the board’s office in lower Manhattan.

Malliotakis’ request comes after Brooklyn real estate developer Jona Rechnitz testified last week in the federal bribery trial of former city jail-guards union boss Norman Seabrook that he directed money to de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign — a violation of campaign finance laws — as a so-called straw donor.

Rechnitz said he collected money from individuals for the mayor’s campaign, and later reimbursed those individuals, a move that allowed him to bypass the city’s $4,950 contribution cap on individuals.

De Blasio has repeatedly dismissed Rechnitz’s testimony. He has called Rechnitz a “liar” and “felon.”

Malliotakis noted that in 2013 the board suspended payments to then-Democratic mayoral candidate John Liu, following evidence presented in federal court that two of his former campaign aides illegally steered money toward his campaign. The two campaign aides were later sentenced to less than a year in jail. Liu, the city’s former comptroller, protested the move at the time, noting he was never charged with a wrongdoing.

Asked about Malliotakis’ request, De Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan said in an email: “This is another silly stunt from a candidate who has no ideas for New York City and is desperate to make voters forget about her strong support for Donald Trump and his far-right agenda.”

Campaign Finance Board spokesman Matt Sollars noted in an email that the board said last week it “plans to review the testimony offered at trial by Mr. Rechnitz.”

“Press accounts to date detail issues outside the current election cycle,” Sollars said of Rechnitz’ testimony. “By law, public funds’ determinations are based on actions in the current election.”

The mayor has raised more than $9 million in campaign contributions since April 2014 — $3 million of it coming from matching funds, according to campaign finance records. Malliotakis, a state assemblywoman from Staten Island, has raised $2.8 million since launching her campaign in April, with $1.75 million of that money coming from matching funds, according to records.

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