The Real Deal New York

Campaign for One NY head aggressively targeted donors with business before city

Now-defunct nonprofit eyed developers looking for cozy relationship with City Hall
December 12, 2016 11:40AM

Bill de Blasio and Ross Offinger

Bill de Blasio and Ross Offinger

The fundraising effort for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s controversial Campaign for One New York nonprofit – headed by political aide Ross Offinger – went above and beyond normal efforts to tap donors who had business before the city, many of whom were developers, a new report claims.

A trio of lobbyists described de Blasio’s dialing-for-dollars effort to fill the coffers of CONY, which de Blasio set up to advance initiatives like universal pre-kindergarten and changing the balance of power in Albany, the New York Daily News reported.

Campaign Finance Rules Place limits on how much donors can give to the mayor’s political campaign, but they can give unlimited funds to his now-defunct nonprofit. It’s created a situation that calls into question whether many of the donors who stand to benefit from a cozy relationship with City Hall were making donations to support the political initiatives, or get a sweetheart deal from the city.

Offinger, who served as finance director for de Blasio’s official election committee, often pitted lobbyists against each other in competition to raise more than each other, two lobbyists told the News.

“He said it was for big donors, minimum of $10K, but it was for people who give in the neighborhood of six figures. It was the biggest of the big donors,” one of the lobbyists said.

Offinger asked one lobbyist to follow up with clients who had already spoken with the mayor but said that because the mayor already reached out, the lobbyist wouldn’t get “credit” with City Hall – which the lobbyist understood to mean the administration looking favorably on future requests, the Daily News reported

In early 2015, three weeks after Brookfield Property Partners TRData LogoTINY broke ground on its 790-unit apartment building at Manhattan West, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen chatted on the phone with then-Brookfield chairman John Zuccotti, who was on Offinger’s list of potential CONY donors. Brookfield wrote a check to CONY that same day.

In 2015, Tishman Realty & Construction reached a deal to pay $40 million to buy city-owned land in Times Square that the firm had leased for years. Two months later, an LLC affiliated with the company wrote two checks totaling $20,000, the Daily News reported.  JDS Development also donated $13,500 to Campaign for One New York in June 2015. At the time, it was drafting plans for the largest planned tower in Brooklyn at 9 DeKalb.

Donors with pending business before the city gave at least $3 million of the $4.3 million raised by CONY from when it began in January 2014 to when it was shut down in March. [NYDN]Rich Bockmann