N.Y. GOP Leader Demands Probe Into de Blasio Call to Free Political Ally

Image: N.Y. GOP Leader Demands Probe Into de Blasio Call to Free Political Ally

Thursday, 13 Feb 2014 09:58 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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New York state GOP Chairman Ed Cox has demanded an investigation into New York  Mayor Bill de Blasio’s phone call to help a political ally get out of jail, the New York Post reported.

The mayor contacted the city police department on Tuesday after learning that his friend, pastor Orlando Findlayter, had been pulled over for driving without a license and then arrested after cops found he had two outstanding arrest warrants.

Findlayter, who helped deliver the black vote to de Blasio last year in the mayoral election, faced spending the night in jail before his arraignment until the mayor stepped in and called NYPD spokeswoman Kim Royster.

Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lehr, the commanding officer of the 67th Precinct, later went to the station house personally to free Findlayter, who happens to be the precinct’s "clergy liaison."

Now Cox has called for a probe into de Blasio’s "abuse of power." He said, "For the mayor of New York City to interfere with law enforcement on behalf of his political allies is 'telephone justice,' not American justice."

Although Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson has the power to open an investigation, his spokesman has refused to comment, according to the report.

Political sources said that although the mayor did not specifically request that the pastor be freed, the phone call was "a wink and a nod" to get him out of jail, the Post revealed.

And now de Blasio is being slammed by both Democrats and Republicans. The newly elected city Comptroller Scott Stringer, a Democrat, said the mayor had put himself in the firing line with his action.

"I think the rule is, mayors should not get involved in any way about somebody’s arrest," Stringer said. "It can only be problematic."

A source close to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, said that de Blasio was encouraging police to give special dispensation to the pastor by making the phone call. "Tell me this doesn’t have a chilling effect [on the NYPD]," the source said. "That’s what this was a wink and a nod."

But the mayor’s political allies, including Public Advocate Letitia James, have rushed to his defense. Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, a friend of Findlayter, said that community leaders should be afforded special treatment.

"To say that someone shouldn’t call or inquire about an incident is weird," he said. "The fact that people call when community leaders are arrested [is] something that occurs — whether it’s the mayor, a council member or another community leader."

And Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez declared, "I believe that if someone was arrested and there was no reason why that should have happened, I think that anyone who can make a call should do it."

The blistering attacks on de Blasio came as Findlayter’s background was revealed by the New York Post in a profile piece.

The Post said that three years ago Findlayter was evicted from the East Flatbush building that housed his New Hope Christian Fellowship church and the nonprofit Churches United to Save and Heal for failing to pay $45,000 in rent.

His homes have been foreclosed on twice, he has filed for bankruptcy, and he owes thousands in court judgments, the Post says. And the IRS yanked his nonprofit’s tax-exempt status last year after it failed to file tax returns for three consecutive years.

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