Federal and New York officials are investigating fundraising related to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bid to ban carriage horses, according to The Wall Street Journal.
De Blasio has pushed for more than 2 years to ban horse-drawn carriages, claiming the practice is inhumane.
The offices of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. are considering, among other matters, whether fundraising efforts circumvented state election laws and whether donors were promised or given official benefits, people familiar with the matter say.
“Mayor de Blasio holds his administration to the highest standards of integrity,” says Karen Hinton, de Blasio’s spokeswoman says. “We will cooperate fully with the investigations.”
The two donors behind the proposed horse-carriage ban, Wendy Neu and Steven Nislick, haven’t been accused of any wrongdoing. A spokesman for Neu and Nislick and their anti-horse-carriage organization, NYCLASS, says the group was focused on fighting for animal rights and would answer any questions investigators may have if contacted.
Neu and Nislick gave more than $100,000 to the Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit that was run by the mayor’s allies and supported de Blasio’s policy and political agenda, records show. They also financed an independent campaign against former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a rival to de Blasio in the 2013 Democratic mayoral primary.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly is also looking into whether donations to the group behind the carriage ban were being directed to an organization attacking Quinn.