No charges in de Blasio campaign finance probe with Ulster ties

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced this week it would bring no criminal charges in an investigation into complaints that aides to Mayor Bill de Blasio had funneled large campaign donations through Democratic committees in Ulster and other counties in 2014 to support Democratic state Senate candidates and bypass the state’s limits on how much could be given to them directly.

In a letter sent and made public on Thursday, D.A. Cyrus Vance told Risa Sugarman, chief enforcement counsel for the state Board of Elections, that the “transactions appear contrary to the spirit and intent” of the contribution limits, but that they would not result in criminal charges. That was because the aides were acting on their attorney’s advice, and because there was no evidence the donors had directed their money ultimately go to specific candidates.

One beneficiary of the largesse was former Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, a Democrat who represented part of Ulster County for one term and was ousted in 2014 by George Amedore, a Republican who still holds that seat. According to the letter to Sugarman, prosecutors found that the Ulster Democratic Committee was given four contributions totaling $364,000 in October 2014, and that the committee gave Tkaczyk’s campaign $330,000 eight days later. The senator, in turn, paid a political consultant $320,000 after getting the money.

Though there was no evidence of a crime, Vance concluded that the “closely managed coordinated plan” de Blasio’s aides followed “creates an end run around the direct campaign contribution limits by taking advantage of inconsistent provisions in the Election Law.”

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