Real Estate Firms Buying Elections in New York

Can NY politicians fight Big Real Estate?

In the debate between Cynthia Nixon and Andrew Cuomo last month, the discussion briefly turned to the issue of homelessness. Cuomo touted his career-long dedication to housing, beginning with a nonprofit he founded in the 1980s. Meanwhile, Nixon blamed the state’s housing crisis, in part, on the governor’s close ties with the real estate industry.

“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we have one of the largest housing crises that we’ve ever seen in this state when the number one contributor to Andrew Cuomo is the real estate industry and corporate developers,” Nixon said.

In the lead up to Thursday’s primary, candidates for two crucial state offices — governor and attorney general — have taken aim at the real estate industry’s role in politics. Campaign contributions from the industry have loomed large in both races. For instance, Attorney General candidate Zephyr Teachout has refused donations from corporate developers, and Letitia James refunded a $10,000 campaign contribution from a controversial landlord. In the governor’s race, Nixon has criticized Cuomo’s top donors — which included more than $700,000 from real estate in the first half of 2018 — and called for dramatic housing reform, including universal rent control.

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Money talks

The past three years have thrown the influence of real estate in politics into sharp relief with the conviction of two of the most powerful men in Albany. Earlier this year former State Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate majority leader Dean Skelos were both re-convicted on corruption charges. Both cases involved leveraging relationships with landlords and developers who, at the time, were lobbying the officials on issues important to the real estate industry, like the 421a tax break.

John Kaehny, executive director and a founding board member of good-government group Reinvent Albany, said given that the real estate industry was at the center of both scandals, there should be even more interest in how donations from real estate impacts elections. He said state elections are especially vulnerable because limited liability companies are treated as individuals rather than corporations. Until rules are reformed, real estate will continue to wield considerable sway over statewide elections, he said.

“This is really a basic matter of money versus people,” he said. “The LLC loophole and the fact that it essentially allows unlimited contributions, allows real estate executives to flex their muscles in extraordinary ways.”

LLCs have become a preferred vehicle for bypassing state campaign contribution rules, especially for real estate companies which often create LLCs for each new development. Under state law, individuals can donate up to $44,000 to candidates running for statewide office, while corporations are capped at $5,000. The state legislature has tried on at least three occasions to hold LLCs to the same restrictions as corporations.

“We’ve passed it in the assembly several times, and then, it goes nowhere,” said state Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, who has endorsed Nixon for governor. “It dies because it fails in the senate.”

As previously reported by The Real Deal, real estate donated more than $733,000 to Cuomo’s re-election campaign in the first half of 2018. His top donor during this timeframe was the Durst Organization, with $75,000 across four LLCs and James L. Nederlander of the Nederlander Organization with $65,000. Cuomo’s favored attorney general candidate, Public Advocate Letitia James, has raised over $280,000 from 80 real estate donors. But she’s also returned donations from certain landlords, including $10,000 from Joel Landau, whose firm Allure Group was at the center of the Rivington House scandal. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney raised at least $433,000 in real estate contributions through the end of August. Teachout has touted the fact that she doesn’t take money from corporate developers and on her campaign website calls for a ramp-up in investigations into illegal tenant harassment, tax fraud and money laundering. She has, however, received $21,000 from multifamily landlord Arthur Cornfeld and L+M Development Partners’ Ron Moelis.

“Why has New York City real estate been able to be so dirty and so cruel for so long? The answer is developer money,” Teachout said during a press conference last month, according to Politico.

Her stance did not go unnoticed by the industry. In late August, Related Companies paid $100,000 to a political action committee that quickly spent the funds on a digital campaign that targeted Teachout, according to a report by Politico.

“The real estate industry is not monolithic. Like journalism and politics, it is not all good, or all bad and not the source of all society’s ills, no matter who says so,” said the Durst Organization’s Jordan Barowitz. “Difficult problems are complicated to solve and require thoughtful collaboration, because of this, scapegoating inevitably solves nothing.”

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Yaffed Sues State, Cuomo Promises to Leave Education Untouched and Tish James Joins Cuomo Ticket- Education in NY?

Group sues state over yeshivas

GROUP SUES STATE FOR GREATER YESHIVA OVERSIGHT — POLITICO’s Madina TouréAn organization seeking to reform curricula in yeshivas is suing the state over legislation that, in the group’s view, protects the schools from proper oversight. The organization — Young Advocates for Fair Education, also known as Yaffed — filed the suit on Monday morning in Brooklyn federal court. It named Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa as defendants. Lawyers from the firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan are representing Yaffed pro bono.

“Ultra-orthodox yeshivas, by our estimates, receive hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year,” said Naftuli Moster, Yaffed’s founder and executive director, at a press conference in Manhattan announcing the lawsuit.”This is clearly a problem and a problem that elected officials in New York have known about for decades and instead of improving the situation, the state allowed one lawmaker, Simcha Felder, who represents the interests of yeshiva leaders, to hijack the state budget process to ensure inclusion of an amendment that exempts ultra-Orthodox yeshivas statewide from having to provide a proper secular education,” Moster continued.

Felder, a Democratic state senator from Brooklyn who has been caucusing with Senate Republicans since he was elected in 2012, was accused of holding up the $168 billion state budget earlier this year until the state acquiesced to his request for yeshivas to be exempt from curriculum requirements. He provides the Senate GOP with a key 32nd vote. The final budget gave the state Education Department the authority to address the issue for bilingual teaching for a greater number of hours, a requirement that yeshivas fulfill.

The group contends that the state’s action flouts the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which bans the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion” or “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

“The carve-out in the Felder Amendment is actually defined in a way that only those ultra-Orthodox yeshivas are included within that carve-out,” said Eric Huang, lead counsel for Yaffed. “These are defined by the fact that they’re nonprofits, that they have a bilingual program and that their education program is marked by very long days.” Read more here.

Aron Wieder, Harassment, Change.org and… the Company Tish James Keeps…

A group calling itself Freedom Counts and a Member of the Board of Elections of Rockland County, New York started the below petition on Change.Org. The purpose is to obtain the signatures necessary to begin removal proceedings to have Rockland County Legislator Aron Wieder removed from office, in part for his use of social media in a means that is allegedly inconsistent with the Legislature’s Social Media “Best Practices” guide. We note that this is not really a surprise. A search of our site will show that Mr. Wieder’s tactics are not beyond reproach. We further note, for New Yorkers who will be voting tomorrow, that Tish James is a favorite of Mr. Wieder and his community, which community has generously supported her campaign. If you are a Rockland County reader, you may want to do your own research.

New Yorks’ Rockland County Legislator Aron Wieder – it is claimed…

 

Impeach Rockland County District 13 Legislator Aron Wieder

 

Aron Wieder is in clear violation of the legislature’s own Social Media Guide, which states, in the section on “Social Media ‘Best Practices’ for Elected Officials,” that officials should strive, when posting on social media, to be “honest, straightforward, and respectful”. Aron Wieder has done nothing but the opposite, choosing to harass, make false accusations, and publicly humiliate others for any beliefs or opinions that should differ from his own, via Social Media. He is not fit to to be legislator and should be removed immediately from his current reign. It is up to the people of Rockland regardless if they are within his district to stand up use your voice it matters. He might be the legislator for District 13 however all of Rockland is feeling his wrath. It is time to act we can either sit back and allow this man to continue to lead the charge, or we can start by signing this petition, sharing it, and understanding this can no longer go on. We need to remind ourselves and this government that “We the people” are in charge and without us they would not be in their ELECTED position(s).

 

 

Isn’t this Rich? Cuomo will Let his Ultra-Orthodox Donor Contingent Run Circles Around the Law and Nixon Will Not.. We Call that SCRUPLED, not anti-Semitic…

 

Cynthia Nixon calls on Andrew Cuomo to apologize for campaign mailer calling her soft on anti-Semitism

(JTA) — New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon called on her primary opponent, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to apologize for a mailer paid for by the state Democratic Party that questioned her support for issues important to Jewish voters.

Cuomo, who heads the state Democratic Party, has said that he had no knowledge of the mailer and said through a spokeswoman that the language was “inappropriate.”

“I am the mother of Jewish children,” Nixon, who is raising the children of her first marriage as Jews and attends Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan, said in a statement late Sunday.

Nixon questioned how Cuomo could not know about the mailer and called on him to apologize, urging him to record a robocall to go out to voters apologizing for “calling me an anti-Semite,” The New York Times reported.

The mailer was sent Saturday, five days before the primary, to some 7,000 Jewish households.

“With anti-Semitism and bigotry on the rise, we can’t take a chance with inexperienced Cynthia Nixon, who won’t stand strong for our Jewish communities,” it said.

The mailer also said that Nixon is “against funding for yeshivas,” supports “BDS, the racist, xenophobic campaign to boycott Israel” and has been “silent on the rise of anti-Semitism.”

In an interview Tuesday with Times reporter Lisa Lerer, Nixon said of the mailer, “I thought it was disgusting and cynical and really surprising that Andrew Cuomo’s New York state party would stoop to this kind of fear-mongering and lies. To use this in this nasty and untruthful way — it’s really Trumpian.”

She added that she thinks Cuomo knew about the mailer despite his denials.

“I think he’s a micromanager and it’s his Democratic Party,” said Nixon, an actress who gained fame on the hit TV show “Sex and the City.” “The idea that he did not know about it is patently ridiculous.”

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah and her wife, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, issued a joint statement Friday saying that the charge that Nixon was soft on anti-Semitism is “a baseless lie.”

A poll released before the issue of the mailer went public showed Cuomo leading Nixon by 63 percent to 22 percent.

Meanwhile, the New York Post reported Tuesday that a Cuomo campaign official had pitched a story to a reporter at the newspaper about Nixon’s opposition to Israeli settlements and her support of the BDS movement against Israel a day before the mailer was delivered.

The email pitch included excerpts of news reports from 2010 detailing how Nixon was among about 200 American celebrities — including many Jews — who signed a letter supporting a boycott by Israeli actors, directors and playwrights of a new theater in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

If You are Latino, if You are Black if you are LGBTQ – Tish James’ List of Financial Backers Should Steer You in ANY OTHER Direction

A NOTE TO THE JAMES’ SUPPORTERS WHO THINK THEY ARE GETTING SOMEONE LOOKING OUT FOR THEM. THE ONLY ONES SHE CAN LOOK OUT FOR ARE THOSE WHO CONTRIBUTED HEAVILY TO HER CAMPAIGN… AND IT IS NOT YOU. – 12.9.18

Whatever we know, or don’t know about what Ms. James believes in, or did, her donor pool tells us everything we need to know about what causes she will support and who will be prosecuted for their crimes.

To the Latinos and Blacks, your schools in East Ramapo, New York (and Lakewood, New Jersey) have been destroyed because money and Federal Funds goes to Yeshivas and not to public education. It goes to supporting a non-substantially similar education. While having a minority candidate represent your interests may feel like a victory, she will be beholden to her contributor base first and that has nothing to do with her color but the color of the hats of those who donated heavily to her campaign.

To the LGBTQ community, you are an abomination to the ultra-Orthodox Jews supporting the James campaign. You are a violation of the laws of G-d, right or wrong. Ms. James will ultimately need to placate her financial backers. Your humanity and dignity is not a top priority for those wanting to preserve an insular and highly religious way of life. The two simply cannot go hand-in-hand.

Please voters, look to Ms. James’ greatest sources of financial campaign support to decide for who to vote on election day. A James win is nothing more and nothing less than a win for the Ultra-Orthodox communities of Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Ramapo, Kiryas Joel and all of the other communities inhabited for the most part by the ultra-Orthodox Jewish donors to her campaign.

“At the end of the day, members voted for who they know.”

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who is running for state attorney general, talks on the campaign trail about wanting to be New York’s first openly gay statewide elected official. Yet despite being a slight favorite in the latest Siena College poll, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, one of Maloney’s primary rivals, is winning more LGBTQ support.

James just released a letter signed by more than 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer New Yorkers involved in politics, all backing James – including New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. Perhaps the only LGBTQ group backing Maloney’s campaign is the Victory Fund, which seeks to elect LGBTQ people.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who is running for state attorney general, talks on the campaign trail about wanting to be New York’s first openly gay statewide elected official. Yet despite being a slight favorite in the latest Siena College poll, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, one of Maloney’s primary rivals, is winning more LGBTQ support.

James just released a letter signed by more than 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer New Yorkers involved in politics, all backing James – including New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. Perhaps the only LGBTQ group backing Maloney’s campaign is the Victory Fund, which seeks to elect LGBTQ people.

Dear Ms. James – A Shikse, a Shvartze, a Shabbos Goi and the Darling of Those Who Grace Our Pages

Dear Ms. James:

We have been following your donor pool and are more than a little bit disheartened.

Did you know that many of your ultra-Orthodox contributors, grace the pages of this website, not for their generosity “philanthropy” but for their lack of morally integrity, if not blatantly illegal activity?

Are you prepared to bend to the whim of those who are so generously financing your campaign as darling of the ultra-Orthodox? Or, are you morally challenged enough for it not to matter?

Are you prepared to sacrifice your moral integrity (and that of those around you); or do you not have any?

Are you prepared to live in an ethically shady area between what might be legal, (or not) and what is most definitely, while perhaps legal – questionably unethical (or not)? Or, do you already live there?

Did you know that the people with whom you sit, the men with their black hats, lengthy beards, black coats and pious looks, those who promise you generous support, will expect something in return? Or, have you already agreed to their terms and conditions?

Are you prepared for the day the Tallyman comes calling? Or, has the price for their support already been laid out in unadulterated detail?

Are you flattered that they have chosen you, a woman of color and a non-Jew to represent them as the future Attorney General of the State of New York? Or, have  you decided that you are willing to do whatever it takes?

Do you ask yourself, why you? Or are you naïve enough to believe that they have chosen you because of the best qualities you have to offer?

Or, worse still,  have you already given them your soul?

Perhaps we can set you straight…

You should not find the support you are being given flattering. It is not being offered to you because of your grades in school and how hard you have worked. It is not being offered to you because of where you come from, how much you struggled and how much your family struggled to get you where you are. 

You are not being showered with campaign contributions because the men from a culture you understand so little about, speaking a language you do not understand, believe you will be fair, impartial and ethically grounded. They believe you will be there’s for the asking. And they don’t bargain fairly.

These men believe you to be malleable and pliable. They believe you to either be of questionable moral character or so driven that you would sell your soul to the Devil himself to get to the AG’s seat.

And Ms. James, you have indeed sold your soul to the Devil.

It is very likely that your cast of unsavory donors have “dirt” (whether real or fabricated) buried in a shoebox somewhere waiting to come to light. When you are asked to return a favor that is less than comfortable for you it will not matter whether you were hiding something or not, all will be lost. These men don’t play nice in the sandbox. They will bury you, say the Kaddish and be done. Scratch that, you are not a Jew. Kaddish is unnecessary.

Being the Darling of the Orthodox Jewish donor pool that has so willingly fed your coffers is anything but a complement. It is an insult, both to your own hard work and to the struggles that define you (at least according to your interviews).

Should you win the election, we hope you will prove yourself to be better than those very donors give you credit for. You returned money from one such donor. We only wish you would return the rest.

We hope you will have a voice that can make your family and your community proud, one that will demand that laws are followed, reporting of rape and molestation is encouraged and the elderly are protected.

Your ultra-Orthodox donors want none of it. They want a cheap political whore.

For those of us watching your donations from the ultra-Orthodox grow, and knowing the dark places that money comes from, we hope you do not get elected. We hope for your sake that your integrity does not need to withstand that test. These men (and their wives) are their own kind of mafia.

If you are defined by the company you keep, we find the prospects of your election to be more than a little bit unsettling.