Mayor Bill de Blasio said today he was unaware of any FBI investigation into the anti-horse carriage group that helped to topple his mayoral rival, Christine Quinn.
The Daily News reported today that the FBI has been asking questions about the independent expenditure group NYCLASS, which supported the “Anybody But Quinn” campaign that staged rallies and ran negative ads against the former council speaker.
Sources told the paper that, in early 2013, NYCLASS’s chief political consultant, Scott Levenson of The Advance Group, approached two Quinn aides and allegedly told them that if she didn’t sign onto a plan to ban the horse-drawn carriages, they would launch a campaign to take her down. She did not.
The FBI is reportedly trying to determine whether the the comments crossed the line from standard political persuasion to extortion.But Mr. de Blasio today steered clear of the report today.
“I’m not,” he said, when asked whether he was familiar with the investigation as he returned from a walk around City Hall plaza this afternoon.
He added that nobody in his campaign or administration had been called by the FBI.
“Literally, I’ve told you all I know. I’m not familiar with the allegations so I can’t comment,” Mr. de Blasio said.
An FBI spokesman declined to comment and a spokesman for Ms. Quinn did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But in a statement, The Advance Group said the firm was “proud” of their advocacy on behalf of the issues and denied any wrongdoing.
“In response to the article in the Daily News, there have been zero inquiries of any kind by any investigative agency regarding the Anybody But Quinn campaign,” the group said through a spokeswoman.
“Last year, there was a city-wide election.Clearly, not everyone is happy with the results. New York City has consistently set the stage for provocative fights on the important issues we face, and our firm is proud to have been at the center of many of them,” she added. “Our advocacy for the issues and clients we fight for is no different than advocacy work that takes place in our democracy every day. Even if you are not happy with the results, our campaign cannot be characterized as anything more than that, and the fact that it was effective.”