Sometimes it really seems like Bill de Blasio can’t catch a break.
He defies the tabloid doomsayers, slashes the number of arrests the cops make, sees crime fall to new records, yet still has to deal with charges that his ideology has endangered the city. He settles dozens of overdue labor contracts and launches a massive universal pre-kindergarten program but is slurred as a lazy manager. He creates a municipal ID program with just shy of a million signups and secures a two-year rent freeze for 2 million tenants, but gets dissed for his gym habits.
He learns—just yesterday—that neither state nor federal prosecutors are going to charge him or his aides for campaign finance violations, but receives an exoneration so qualified it basically writes the television ads his opponents will air against him later this election year.
Why doesn’t New York City’s mayor get a break? Because his opponents to the right are too threatened by what he represents to miss a chance to belittle him. And because his erstwhile allies on the left believe that they have a right to expect more.
De Blasio was never accused of doing anything for personal profit. Unlike Sheldon Silver, whose outside legal earnings were tied to favors he executed as speaker of the New York State Assembly, or Dean Skelos, who used his State Senate presidency to snag a juicy job for his son, or most of the many other New York pols who have done a perp walk in the past decade, no one ever said de Blasio had pocketed anything.
Instead, the Manhattan District Attorney investigated whether he or his aides had broken campaign-finance laws in an effort to win back the State Senate for the Democrats, and the US Attorney looked into whether de Blasio or his people had illegally done favors for donors who had given to a nonprofit he’d set up to push his progressive agenda.
“We have conducted a thorough investigation into several circumstances in which Mayor de Blasio and others acting on his behalf solicited donations from individuals who sought official favors from the city, after which the mayor made or directed inquiries to relevant city agencies on behalf of those donors,” acting US Attorney Joon Kim wrote in a statement released Thursday. “In considering whether to charge individuals with serious public corruption crimes, we take into account, among other things, the high burden of proof, the clarity of existing law, any recent changes in the law, and the particular difficulty in proving criminal intent in corruption schemes where there is no evidence of personal profit. After careful deliberation, given the totality of the circumstances here and absent additional evidence, we do not intend to bring federal criminal charges against the mayor or those acting on his behalf relating to the fundraising efforts in question.”