City Hall earmarked 250 tickets to Wednesday’s ceremony celebrating the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s World Cup win for “key civic partners” — but refused to provide a full list.
The last time Mayor Bill de Blasio feted the squad, following their 2015 trip up the Canyon of Heroes, the nearly 250 VIP passes went largely to mayoral donors, lobbyists, developers and corporate honchos.
Overall, some 3,850 tickets to Wednesday’s post-parade ceremony at City Hall have been given away.
Some 1,900 were distributed to the general public, via a city-run online lottery and through U.S. Soccer. Another 1,100 went to friends, family members and corporate sponsors of the 2019 World Cup champs and to U.S. Soccer.
City Hall’s stash includes 600 passes for elected officials, commissioners and other government officials — and 250 for “key civic partners” of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, according to a mayoral spokesperson.
The Mayor’s Fund serves as the nonprofit arm of City Hall, and raised $21.3 million from corporate and foundation donors in fiscal year 2108.
On Tuesday, City Hall officials said they were still finalizing the list of the 250 civic partners — who, like all the special guests, will get access to designated sections within City Hall’s plaza, but not reserved seats.
The officials said the guests this year include community service groups, such as Girl Scouts Troop 6000 and the nonprofit South Bronx United.
Donors Flocked in 2015
In 2015, the VIP list was peppered with donors to the mayor’s campaigns and political causes.
It included a couple of big-time fundraisers — real estate investor Jona Rechnitz and restaurateur Harendra Singh — who would later allege they raised money for the mayor in a bid to get favorable treatment from his administration.
Rechnitz, who in 2016 pleaded guilty to bribing NYPD officials, had sought a number of favors from the administration, including help with significant home-sharing violations levied on one of his Manhattan properties.
Singh had been seeking a better rent deal with the city for a riverside restaurant he was leasing in Long Island City but was arrested on unrelated bribery charges before the lease was renewed. Among the charges Singh pleaded to in a 2016 deal with federal prosecutors were conspiracy, bribery and honest services fraud involving his contributions to de Blasio’s campaign.
At the time of the 2015 ceremony, de Blasio was soliciting hefty donations for his now-defunct Campaign for One New York political nonprofit — and many of the VIP guests that year were five-figure donors.
They included Broadway Stages executive Gina Argento, who gave $60,000 and bundled $97,780 for mayor’s political campaigns; former Edison Properties executive Steven Nislick, who, with affiliates, donated $75,000; and Toll Brothers President David Von Spreckelsen, whose firm gave $50,000.
Before the mayor swore off personal meetings with lobbyists at the end of his first term in office, his administration offered VIP passes for the 2015 soccer ceremony to lobbyists and prominent campaign bundlers Jim Capalino, Harold Ickes and Sid Davidoff.
Also invited as a VIP guest was the mayor’s actor pal, Steve Buscemi.
The mayor’s office also rolled out the red carpet in 2015 to billionaires, such as angel investor Ron Conway, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Open Society Foundations founder George Soros — who gave $500,000 to the Campaign for One New York through a separate foundation.
De Blasio is currently running for president with a tagline about putting “working people first” but has yet to release a list of donors to his 2020 efforts ahead of a July 15 public filing deadline.
A spokesperson for de Blasio’s presidential campaign referred questions about this year’s soccer ticket list to City Hall.
Alex Camarda, of the good government group Reinvent Albany, said Wednesday’s guestlist merited scrutiny.
“Special interests have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the mayor’s nonprofits, and giving them free tickets to the World Cup victory celebration looks like payback,” said Camarda.
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