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Donor says he gave illegal contributions to New York mayor, de Blasio, who was aware

New York mayor Bill de Blasio is named in an alleged pay-to-play scandal on Thursday. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

"Listen, I don't know, I don't want to know. Just do what you've got to do."

Former donor Harendra Singh testified on Thursday that those were the words of Bill de Blasio in response to Singh offering illegal contributions to the New York mayor's campaign.

As part of the dual corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and former Oyster Bar Town Supervisor John Venditto, Singh is currently serving as the star witness.

Singh has already pleaded guilty to bribing de Blasio, and accepted a plea deal to testify in the trial of Mangano and Venditto. Defense attorneys for the two accused say Singh, a former restauranteur, can't be trusted.

According to Singh, he raised somewhere between $50,000 and $80,000 for de Blasio, detailing how he'd thrown free fundraisers for the mayor and presented funds via the use of "straw donors" — contributors who give money to campaigns and are reimbursed by the actual donors — an illegal mechanism used to skirt campaign finance laws.

The former restaurant owner was seeking assistance from the mayor regarding the replacement of a pier near his restaurant. He says the two of them built a "a very close relationship."

De Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips responded to the accusations from Singh, insisting, "This administration acted appropriately at all times, as we've said several thousand times," saying that Singh is just "a convicted felon trying to save his own skin."

But Singh is the second de Blasio donor who has admitted to pay-to-play politics involving the mayor. In a different case, a Brooklyn developer, Jona Rechnitz, testified that he, too, had cut large checks to the mayor's campaign in exchange for favors.



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