A Long Island restaurateur testified under oath on Thursday that he steered tens of thousands of dollars to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s political campaigns in return for favorable treatment by the city.
It was the first time that the restaurateur, Harendra Singh, has publicly detailed his efforts to use campaign contributions — as much as $80,000 raised from others, and much more personally by using “straw donors” to skirt contribution limits — to gain better terms during lease negotiations for one of his restaurants.
Mr. Singh also suggested for the first time that Mr. de Blasio not only knew of the illegal arrangement, but that the mayor encouraged it and actively helped the restaurateur.
“He made many phone calls,” Mr. Singh said of the mayor. “His office was working very hard, from his deputy mayor to his assistant to his intergovernmental affairs person. Everyone was working.”
Mr. Singh was testifying as a cooperating witness in the corruption trial of Edward Mangano, the former Nassau County executive, and John Venditto, the former Town of Oyster Bay supervisor, both of whom Mr. Singh has pleaded guilty to bribing.
Mr. Singh said that he and the mayor often discussed the lease and the donations in the same conversations.
And on two occasions, the restaurateur testified, Mr. de Blasio requested contributions for himself or political allies and, when told that Mr. Singh had already met the limit, said: “Listen, I don’t want to know. Just do what you have to do.”The Mangano/Venditto case has been a thorn in de Blasio's side for a while now. But Singh's testimony makes things much harder for the mayor. The issue now is that de Blasio may now be called to testify in the case, and if that happens, all bets are off.
We'll see, but if I were you I'd cross the guy off any 2020 short lists.