Home Top NYC lobbyist settles ethics case in Blasio fundraising probe

Top NYC lobbyist settles ethics case in Blasio fundraising probe


The city’s top lobbyist agreed to a $5,000 settlement with the state’s ethics watchdog over her firm’s dealings with the non-profit group created to promote Mayor Bill de Blasio’s agenda.

The settlement announced Tuesday by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics noted that Suri Kasirer assisted in raising money for the since defunct DeBlasio-tied Campaign for One New York after the mayor personally asked her for assistance in raising funds for the group.

De Blasio’s team created the not-for-profit CONY after his 2013 election to boost his pet policy projects like the universal pre-kindergarten program. But critics slammed it as a mayoral slush fund.

It was formed by campaign aides Bill Hyers, Stephanie Yazgi and Ross Offinger. Offinger, who had served as a fundraiser for the Mayor’s campaign, became CONY’s treasurer and chief fundraiser.

CONY was closed in 2016 amid federal and state pay-to-play probes into allegations that the mayor’s team was hitting up donors with business before the city.

No charges were filed against the mayor, but the fallout continues for those he and his team hit up to raise money for the group. The investigation is ongoing, a JCOPE spokesman said.

Prosecutors, while concluding crimes were not committed by City Hall, criticized de Blasio’s fundraising practices.

“This conclusion is not an endorsement of the conduct at issue; indeed, the transactions appear contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits,” Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. said at the time.

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. said Mayor Bill de Blasio’s not-for-profit CONY violated “the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits.”
Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. said Mayor Bill de Blasio’s not-for-profit CONY violated “the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits.”
John Minchillo/AP

The Lobbying Act prohibits lobbyists and their clients from giving gifts to a public official, which includes gifts to third parties on behalf of or at the behest of a public official. JCOPE investigated whether donations to CONY by individuals with business before the city were a gift to the mayor.

After speaking with de Blasio, Kasirer spoke with other company employees about the mayor’s request. Workers at her firm then contacted two of their clients, which resulted in donations of $5,000 and $10,000 for de Blasio’ CONY.

“Kasirer, LLC acknowledges that the Lobbying Act prohibits a lobbyist with business before the State or the City from offering or giving gifts to a public official, unless the circumstances are such that it is not reasonable to infer that the gift was meant to influence that public official. The company was fully cooperative with the Commission,” JCOPE said in a press release accompanying the settlement .

Kasirer on Tuesday said, “I’m happy to have this matter behind me.”

She declined further comment.

Kasirer is just the latest power player to enter into a financial settlement agreement to end the ethics probe with the de Blasio group.

Lobbyist James Capalino, ranked second in compensation after Kasirer, paid a $40,000 settlement with JCOPE in 2018 after donating $10,000 to CONY and raising another $90,000 from clients for de Blasio’s group.

The animal rights group New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets (“NYCLASS”), its co-founder and president Steven Nislick, and board member Wendy Neu also entered into financial settlements with JCOPE.

Three real estate and development firms — Douglaston Development, Brookfield Financial Properties and Toll Brothers also agreed to financial settlements with JCOPE after giving donations to CONY.



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