Insiders question Spitzer’s real estate loyalty

September 01, 2013 12:00PM

Former New York Governor, turned Comptroller hopeful, Eliot Spitzer sought refuge in his father’s trophy real estate portfolio after abdicating Albany. But some insiders close to Spitzer say that the ambitious politician has never shared his father’s zeal for the industry – despite his position managing a portfolio that includes seven residential high-rises and four commercial buildings throughout Manhattan and Washington.

“To me, he had absolutely no interest in being in the business,” an unidentified executive who has worked with Spitzer told the New York Daily News. “He had this amazing portfolio to play with, and all he wanted to do was be on TV.”

Spitzer has denied that he is simply using his father’s real estate riches to fund his political dreams, telling the Daily News that “I like to think life can be bifurcated.”

Nevertheless Spitzer has a history of borrowing from real estate to fund his political campaigns. In 1994, during his race for state attorney general, Spitzer took out a $4.3 million bank loan, using eight apartments given to him by his father as collateral. When he ran for attorney general a second time four years later – and won – he borrowed $8 million against the same apartments. Securely in office, Spitzer sold the units back to his father.

In his current campaign for Comptroller, Spitzer has admitted that his real estate connections could lead to potential conflicts of interest, insisting that should he win election that he will immediately step down from his father’s company.

“We will handle it in a way so meticulous, so transparent,” he said. “Mike Bloomberg runs a huge company here, and he manages.”

Currently his father’s portfolio includes 985 Fifth Avenue, where Eliot Spitzer once lived; 800 Fifth Avenue, where his parents now live; the mixed-use Crown Building at the southwest corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue and the Corinthian. [NYDN]Christopher Cameron