Developers using loophole to funnel donations to Cuomo

Glenwood, Extell and others contributing money to governor via LLCs, report shows
June 16, 2014 10:46AM

Governor Andrew Cuomo has become the biggest beneficiary of a loophole in New York State’s campaign finance regulations that allows businesses and individuals to donate large amounts of money to politicians. The lion’s share of the donations appears to be coming from real estate developers.

The loophole in question allows limited liability companies, or LLCs, to give up to $150,000 a year to candidates and political committees. In comparison, the ceiling for corporations is $5,000.

Because developers typically establish an LLC for individual properties, they are able to easily take advantage of the loophole, according to a new report by ProPublica.

The data shows Governor Cuomo has raised $6.2 million from LLCs since he took office in 2011. That’s more than double the amount Eliot Spitzer and David Patterson received from LLCs in their combined four years in office, reports ProPublica.

Governor Cuomo’s top real estate donor is Glenwood Management, with $800,000 contributed through 19 LLCs, according to ProPublica.

The report also cites two donations from Extell Development worth $100,000. Those gifts came two days before the governor signed legislation that awarded Extell and four other developers tax breaks for projects, including Extell’s One57.

The donations were flagged by the Moreland Commission on corruption, which said they created “the appearance of a relationship between large donations and legislation that specifically benefits large donors.”

A spokesperson for Extell responded in a statement to ProPublica, saying: “While we do not comment on any specific campaign contributions, we categorically deny any quid pro quo between contributions and legislation.” [ProPublica] — Tom DiChristopher