Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday refused to say whether he or anyone in his administration deleted emails to the mayor from a major donor that surfaced in a federal bribery trial this week.
The emails weren’t provided to media outlets in response to legal requests fulfilled by City Hall last year.
The omission of the emails from Freedom of Information Law requests raises questions about the administration’s record retention policies, and about whether an unknown number of de Blasio emails that should have been preserved as public records have been deleted.
“Did you delete those emails?” the mayor was asked by WNYC radio’s Brain Lehrer during his weekly appearance.
“We turned over thousands of emails. We gave everything we had,” de Blasio responded, without answering the question.
“I really don’t know the specifics of it. I just told you — anything we had, we turned over,” he continued during a prolonged exchange.
“I get lots of emails and anything consequential, anything that has to do with government business, we try and move it over to the government side, preserve the ones that need to be preserved.”
The mayor claimed the issue wasn’t worth discussing.
“There was nothing that happened here that was consequential,” he said.
The newly revealed emails contradict de Blasio’s repeated contentions that he was never close with mega-donor Jona Rechnitz, now a government witness who has admitted bribing government officials.
In a Nov. 3, 2014, email to de Blasio’s personal email account, Rechnitz urged the mayor not to allow then-NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks to retire.
“What can we do for you to refuse Banks’s resignation and get him back in and for [NYPD Commissioner Bill] Bratton to see past Phil’s monstrous mistake?” Rechnitz wrote.
The email, which got de Blasio to meet with Rechnitz in person shortly afterward, was not included in City Hall’s Aug. 4, 2017, response to a FOIL request by The Post.
A February 2014 email introduced at trial in which Rechnitz offers the mayor tickets for a Knicks game — again showing how close the two were — was also excluded from City Hall’s response.
On Friday, de Blasio blasted Rechnitz as a “very troubled person who’s committed crimes and has lied incessantly.”
When he tried to dismiss the Nov. 3 email as inconsequential, Lehrer asked him, “Do you think that an email from a major donor asking you not to accept the resignation of an NYPD official is not government business?”
The mayor, who grew testy in response to the repeated questioning, responded, “We do our best to be transparent. I don’t know why people keep coming back to it because it’s been covered and covered and covered.”
Rechnitz’s hefty donations to the mayor’s campaign and his political nonprofit were among those reviewed by the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office as part of a pay-to-play probe that started in early 2016.
Rules set by the Department of Records and Information Services for retaining government emails appear to forbid the deletion of Rechnitz’s emails to the mayor.
But City Hall officials insist their own policies allow for the deletion of a significant number of government emails.
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