Mayor Bill de Blasio is ghosting his one-time friend and campaign bundler James Capalino.The mayor has cut off contact with Capalino, who runs the lobbying firm, James F. Capalino & Associates, and other lobbyists amid several investigations into his administration, Politico reported. Capalino, according to a New York Daily News story in March, steered $50 million to de Blasio after pushing the city to lift the deed restriction at the Rivington House.
The mayor had met with Capalino three times in 2015, the most he’d met with any lobbyist that year. His company was also the city’s highest-paid firm in 2015, raking in $12.9 million. Capalino also reportedly pushed for deed restriction lifts on three other properties in addition to the Rivington House. Fosun International hired Capalino to help secure a deed change for the landmarked skyscraper 28 Liberty Street, but ditched his services because of his involvement in the Rivington House scandal.
De Blasio told reporters on Tuesday that Dalian Wanda CEO Wang Jianlin was present during one of the 2015 meetings related to Rivington House, though he says he remembers China’s richest man mostly talking about his expanding movie theater empire. Dalian Wanda announced in May 2015 that it was teaming up with China Vanke, one of the buyers of Rivington House.
A Capalino spokesperson told Politico that a partnership between the two Chinese firms hadn’t been formed at the time of the meeting and Capalino didn’t know it would happen.
“I have not been in touch with Mr. Capalino,” de Blasio said during an unrelated press conference. “He, going into the mayoralty, was someone I respected as a friend and who I talked to a lot over the years. But I do not have contact with him anymore.” [Politico] — Kathryn Brenzel