The state of New York’s ethics watchdog agency has gotten the green light from an Albany judge to investigate potentially illegal donations given to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s since-closed not-for-profit group.
Albany State Supreme Court Judge Richard Platkin ruled that the Joint Commission on Public Ethics has the authority to pursue a probe into Broadway Stages’ communications with de Blasio as well as $60,000 in donations.
The film studio — whose CEO and president Gina Argento raised more than $110,000 for de Blasio’s 2013 campaign and transition period — filed a lawsuit in November 2019 seeking to squash a subpoena from JCOPE seeking communications between the company, de Blasio, and his now-shuttered Campaign for One New York charity and lobbyist James Capalino, according to the lawsuit.
Broadway Stages claimed JCOPE can’t investigate individuals who give “gifts” and is limited to regulating officials who receive those monetary donations. It also denied donating to CONY following a request from de Blasio or any another public official.
“JCOPE’s interpretation of the Lobbying Act is rational, reasonable and consistent with the overarching legislative scheme concerning gift restrictions set forth in the Public Officers Law and Lobbying Act,” wrote Platfkin in a July 9 decision reviewed by The Post. He added that this conclusion is reinforced because JCOPE is already empowered through state law with “enforcing the gift restrictions and investigating violations.”
“For essentially the same reason, the Court rejects petitioner’s contention that the Subpoena should be squashed because JCOPE lacks authority to investigate conduct that would only constitute a violation of its regulations,” he continued.
“In any event, the provision relied upon by petitioner … does not restrict JCOPE’s authority to investigate potential regulatory violations.”
The ruling is the latest development in a saga involving the mayor, his former charity, and a gaggle of lobbyists.
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