The Real Deal New York

NYC real estate loves Jeb and Christie – but not Rubio

Super PAC donations show industry’s presidential preferences

February 01, 2016 06:20PM
By Konrad Putzier

From left: Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush

From left: Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush

New York’s real estate industry showered Super PACs backing Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich with cash in the second half of 2015, but shunned Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton. The figures, pulled from year-end campaign finance reports filed Sunday, highlight the industry’s general preference for moderate Republicans in the 2016 presidential race.

John M. Angelo, who died on January 3, made the single biggest donation by an executive with ties to New York real estate in the second half of 2015. The co-founder of fund manager Angelo, Gordon & Co, which has financed numerous NYC real estate projects, donated $250,000 to the pro-Christie PAC America Leads in July. JEMB Realty’s president Joseph Jerome gave $50,000, and Ferreira Construction, a New Jersey-based contractor active in greater New York, donated $100,000.

Right to Rise, a PAC backing former Florida governor Jeb Bush, received $50,000 from Cushman & Wakefield chairman John C. Cushman, who has donated $350,000 to-date. John C. Klein, of Greenpoint Landing co-developer Park Tower Group, also donated $50,000 in the second half of 2015, and has dished out $175,000 to-date. Eastdil Secured’s CEO Roy March donated $3,750 to the PAC.

Meanwhile, a PAC backing Ohio governor John Kasich, New Day for America, received three donations totaling $125,000 from H. J. Kalikow, a Midtown-based development firm and owner of office tower 101 Park Avenue. Sam Zell, who recently said Donald Trump lacks the right “temperament and personality” to be president, donated $5,000 to the Kasich PAC.

New York real estate executives did not give significant sums to PACs backing democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton or Republican candidates Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Rand Paul. Donald Trump, the current leader in national Republican polls, is not backed by a major Super PAC. Neither is Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton’s PAC did, however, land a $10,000 check from developer William Zeckendorf in the first half of 2015, while his brother Arthur donated to Donald Trump’s campaign, as The Real Deal previously reported.

The donations follow a clear pattern. Kasich, Bush and Christie are widely considered to be moderate Republicans: keen to cut taxes and regulations, but less hawkish on social issues like immigration or reproductive rights. The Republican candidates who got no love from real estate executives despite doing well in polls – Ted Cruz and Ben Carson – are considered religious hardliners. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s increasingly progressive platform was always unlikely to excite wealthy developers.

The lack of donations to Marco Rubio’s PAC is at least somewhat surprising. Although running on a more conservative platform than Bush, Christie or Kasich, Rubio is still considered moderate by the standards of today’s Republican party. And prediction markets give him a better shot at winning the nomination than any of his more centrist peers.

Martin O’Malley is the only Democratic candidate whose PAC landed a major donation from New York’s real estate industry in the second half of 2015. Eliot Spitzer, the developer and former Democratic governor of New York, donated $50,000. His mother, Anne Spitzer, also donated $50,000.

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