A nonprofit anti-corruption center at Columbia University will review Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's campaign donations over the next three months, the embattled DA announced in a Daily News op-ed Sunday night.
The Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity review comes after an avalanche of negative press for Vance, who has been criticized for accepting hefty donations from attorneys after declining to prosecute their powerful clients: first Ivanka Trump and her brother Donald Trump Jr., then Harvey Weinstein.
"In 90 days, they will report back with recommendations on how to handle [donations] moving forward," Vance wrote. "In the interim, I have directed my campaign not to accept a single dollar more."
Vance has maintained that the evidence against the Trumps and Weinstein wasn't enough to merit prosecution, while suggesting that a review will reassure the public of this, and restore confidence in his integrity as a prosecutor.
"In my seven years as district attorney, I've never allowed someone's wealth, power, race, or campaign contributions to influence my decisions," Vance wrote to open the Sunday evening op-ed. "Over the past few days, I’ve learned that it's not enough for me to have confidence in my independence from donors. The people of New York deserve to be confident about it as well."
In the case of the Trumps, prosecutors looked into potentially felonious false-advertising to Trump Soho investors. In Weinstein's case, Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez accused Weinstein of sexual assault—incriminating audio came to light last week—but the DA's office ultimately decided not to prosecute.
Steve Sigmund, a spokesperson for the Vance campaign, declined to comment beyond Vance's op-ed.
A Politico analysis of Vance's campaign contributions since 2014 found that just shy of half have come from lawyers and law firms. Some came from Kramer Levin Naftalis, the law firm that represented Mayor Bill de Blasio during an investigation into his campaign donations, the Daily News reports.
It's time that candidates for local District Attorney just say no to campaign donations from criminal defense lawyers.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) October 13, 2017
"I expect that CAPI... will recommend that we go well beyond what is currently required by laws that govern contributions to district attorneys in our state," Vance wrote Sunday. "I genuinely hope that they do."
The Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity did not immediately respond to a request for comment; nor did Vance's office.
Vance is running unopposed for reelection in November, but former Brooklyn assistant DA Mark Fliedner has mounted a write-in vote challenge in the wake of the Weinstein and Trump-related blowback.