NEW YORK, Oct 17 — New York prosecutor Cy Vance has denied that campaign contributions influenced his decisions and announced an “independent” review of donations after allegations that he protected disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
The Manhattan district attorney, a Democrat, has received important financial contributions from legal firms since his first election in 2009.
But, in a statement published Sunday, Vance said that in “seven years as district attorney, I’ve never allowed someone’s wealth, power, race, or campaign contributions to influence my decisions.”
Vance, who hopes for re-election to another four-year term next month, said New Yorkers deserve to have confidence in his “independence” from donors.
He announced that the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity, based at Columbia university’s law school, will conduct a 90-day review of his handling of campaign contributions.
“In the interim, I have directed my campaign not to accept a single dollar more,” Vance wrote.
Vance, 63, who prides himself on profoundly modernizing the prosecutor’s office, hopes to deflect a flood of criticisms that have targeted him in recent days.
They began with media reports in early October that Vance’s office decided to end an investigation into the children of now-president Donald Trump, Ivanka and Donald Jr, over allegations they lied to buyers of units in a SoHo district building.
Then last week, the New Yorker reported that Vance’s office decided not to file charges over sexual assault allegations by Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez against Hollywood giant Weinstein.
A police recording caught Weinstein admitting that he had touched Gutierrez’s breasts, but Vance’s office said the evidence did not support a charge.
Critics accuse Vance of failing to pursue charges in both cases because of financial contributions he received from lawyers for Trump as well as David Boies, one of Weinstein’s attorneys.
Vance last week said those donations “had no impact on my thinking”.
Weinstein faces numerous accusations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape.
New York police said last week they are investigating a 2004 case involving him but gave no details. — AFP