Mayor de Blasio, who has championed efforts to remove the stigma around people convicted of felonies, said Monday being a felon is a pejorative in donor Jona Rechnitz’s case — because this time, the felon is lying about him.
“It’s a pejorative when someone tells lies and he’s telling lies about me,” de Blasio said when questioned about his repeated dismissal of Rechnitz’s testimony based on his felony conviction. “That’s all there is to say about it.”
But the mayor had a more open mind when he signed The Fair Chance Act, also known as “ban the box” legislation — which prohibits employers from discriminating against a job applicant because of a conviction, including felonies. He called it a “milestone for equal opportunity” in the city and said convictions unfairly held people back.
“Far too often, for too many New Yorkers, that obliterated a chance for any job — denying the very opportunity that many people needed to be back on a pathway to success,” de Blasio said.
When it comes to Rechnitz, however, the criminal-justice-reform minded mayor has zero tolerance for a felony conviction — one that’s making considerable trouble for him less than two weeks from the election.
“I’m not dealing with a hypothetical,” he said. “I’m dealing with this specific case. He’s a liar and a felon.”
As part of the trial against former corrections union boss Norman Seabrook, Rechnitz has testified that in addition to showering law enforcement officials with gifts and cash, he spread his love to the mayor — raising $193,000 for him, including a $100,000 lump sum for de Blasio’s failed bid to remake the State Senate that Hizzoner says he has no recollection of soliciting.
Also forgotten is what he did with an email from Rechnitz titled “Norman is under control,” in reference to Seabrook’s vocal criticism of de Blasio’s chosen jails boss. The email came up at trial, but mysteriously was not included in records turned over as a result of a Freedom of Information Law request for his communications with the disgraced donor.
“Three years ago, a single email I just don’t recall,” he said Monday, when asked if he could have deleted it. “Anything that was asked of us by the authorities, we provided.”