Two of the “Three Men in a Room” — Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos — are bound for prison, but relationships with influential politicians remain essential for many in real estate.
State Senator John Flanagan and Assemblyman Carl Heastie, who last year rose to lead their respective legislative chambers after their predecessors were popped by the feds for being in bed with developers, have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars ahead of the 2016 budget season, with donations from key real estate interests.
Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx who was first elected to the Assembly in 2000, raised just over $298,000 through the second half of 2015, according to state campaign finance records. While real estate donors were slow to contribute to Heastie in the early part of 2015, he collected more than $10,000 from real estate players by the close of the year. Those donors include the political action committees of the Real Estate Board of New York ($4,400), the Rent Stabilization Association ($1,000) and the Hotel Association of New York City ($500).
Heastie also received a $1,000 donation from Renew New York, a 17-year-old political action committee that in its earlier days benefitted from the largesse of Douglas Durst, Burt Resnick and Tishman Speyer, who each wrote checks for $25,000 back in 2002.
In recent years the PAC’s largest benefactor has been Al D’amato, a lobbyist and former U.S. Senator who often makes political donations through LLCs named after real estate companies.
Industry figures also made contributions to Heastie as individuals. The Related Companies’ Jay Kriegel, a prolific political bundler, donated $250. And Don Peebles, who has been openly mulling a political career of his own in recent months, broke out his checkbook to the tune of $1,000.
Heastie’s counterpart in the state senate, Flanagan, collected over $291,000 through the last six months of 2015, but received less institutional support from the real estate industry.
The Rent Stabilization Association wrote a check for $2,000 and the state’s Association of Realtors donated $1,000.
Flanagan’s largest real estate donor was Staller Associates, a commercial landlord based in his Long Island district. The company donated a total of $2,685. All told, Flanagan received nearly $8,000 from real estate donors.
In the years prior to their arrests, Silver and Skelos relied on the real estate industry to help fill their campaign coffers.
Many industry figures were reportedly upset with state Republicans after negotiations in Albany failed to produce results on rent regulation and 421a, which expired last week after REBNY and labor unions failed to hammer out an agreement that could have extended the lucrative development incentive.