Former Democratic State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk had no comment Wednesday when asked if she has been subpoenaed by federal authorities as part of an expanding probe into New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fundraising efforts back in 2014.
On Wednesday The New York Times reported that a federal probe of de Blasio’s campaign fundraising had expanded to focus on the mayor’s 2014 efforts to help win a Democratic majority in the state Senate. The article cites unnamed sources who knew about grand jury subpoenas issued this week in the inquiry.
Tkaczyk, reached by phone Wednesday, had no comment as to whether she’s received a subpoena from federal authorities or been contacted by them.
According to the Times article prosecutors are trying to see whether there was an effort to circumvent state campaign contribution limits because county committees have no limits in doling out contributions from people, groups or companies. The article says there’s no indication that de Blasio is a target of the inquiry.
Back in 2014 Tkaczyk, from Duanesburg, was locked in a heated battle to keep her seat in the 46th Senate District from George Amedore, a Republican and former state assemblyman. Tkaczyk ended up losing. The 46th District includes the City of Kingston and eight Ulster County towns.
In the October before the crucial 2014 election the Ulster County Democratic Committee received huge donations of cash stemming from New York City, according to state Board of Elections records. According to a report filed 11 days before the election, 71-85 Lewis Avenue LLC threw $100,000 at the Ulster County Democratic Committee on Oct. 14, 2014.
The person or people behind the LLC are elusive. Its mailing address is 266 Broadway in Brooklyn and registered as a foreign limited liability company out of Delaware.
New York City property records show that a Mike Kohn, CEO of Alliance Property Capital Group, has signed off on documents in the name of the LLC as an authorized signatory on a lease. The Brooklyn-based group is a real estate intermediary group that helps set up real estate financing, according to its website. A call to Kohn was not immediately returned.
New York City lobbying records also show that the LLC hired the firm Slater & Beckerman, P.C., to lobby on its behalf last year. It paid out $22,505 in 2015 to target city regulatory boards regarding real property decisions.
The name of the LLC also shares a similar address to 71 Lewis Ave. in Brooklyn, a Bed-Stuy community facility that Kohn was looking to convert into a housing complex, according to a DNAinfo New York article last year.
The Ulster County Democratic Committee also received donations from three labor-backed New York City organizations on the same day. Those included $102,300 from the CWA District One PAC, $102,300 from 32BJ United ADF and $60,000 from the NYSNA Political Action Committee. The CWA in generally associated with the Communication Workers of America, 32BJ with the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, and the NYSNA with the New York State Nurses Association.
That’s $364,600 going to the committee on one day.
About a week later money from the Ulster County Democratic Committee started flowing to Tkaczyk’s campaign. On Oct. 17 the committee transferred $60,000 to her campaign and $100,000 on Oct. 20. Then on Oct. 21 it transferred $170,000.
On Oct. 21 and Oct. 22 the committee transferred two more checks into her campaign account, one for $100,000 and the other for $170,000, respectively, according to state Board of Election records.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Ulster County Democratic Committee Chair Frank Cardinale said he has received no subpoena nor been contacted by federal authorities. He had no comment as to the origins of the LLC cash or if de Blasio had a role in orchestrating the donations.
At the time Crain’s New York wrote, as well as other outlets, that the money was tied to de Blasio’s fundraising efforts.
A spokeswoman for federal prosecutors in Manhattan had no comment and said they could not confirm if there is an investigation. The FBI’s New York Field Office said the same.