Paul Massey says the city won’t do any business with donors to his campaign if he’s elected mayor. But given his deep connections to the industry and how entwined it is with city government, it might be a difficult pledge to keep.
During his first press conference since announcing his candidacy for mayor, the Cushman & Wakefield executive stood outside City Hall Tuesday morning and railed against Democratic incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Massey castigated de Blasio over the mayor’s use of taxpayer funds for his legal defenses, remarking that de Blasio awarded “sweetheart contracts” to special interests and sold off city property “to friends at below-market value.”
“[The city] needs a leader who will pledge no city business will be awarded to campaign donors,” Massey, a Republican, said. “Taxpayers will not be forced to foot the bill for corruption charges coming out of City Hall. That’s a pledge I’m willing to make to every New Yorker.”
A spokesperson for de Blasio’s campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.
De Blasio and his campaign are facing multiple investigations into fundraising practices. Separately, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. reportedly launched probes into the city’s deal to sell the Brooklyn Heights Library for $52 million to the Hudson Companies, which is run by de Blasio fundraiser David Kramer. Kramer has not received a subpoena related to the matter.
Bharara’s office and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are also investigating the Rivington House scandal, in which de Blasio donor and lobbyist James Capalino pushed unsuccessfully on behalf of the nonprofit Village Care to get a deed restriction removed from the nursing home. Village Care later sold the property to the Allure Group, which got the restriction removed and sold the it to Slate Property Group, Adam America and China Vanke or $116 million.
Neither de Blasio nor his staff have been charged in connection to any of the investigations, and de Blasio has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
Massey’s pledge to keep a distance between City Hall and campaign donors may prove difficult considering that in just his first campaign-finance filing he reported raising $1.6 million from private donors, much of which came from his friends in the real estate industry.
Massey’s campaign manager, David Amsterdam, also previously worked at SL Green Realty, the city’s largest office landlord and developer of the One Vanderbilt office tower near Grand Central Terminal, which required city approval to move forward.
When asked if his ties to the real estate industry could make it difficult for him to implement an affordable-housing plan, Massey dodged the question, saying the campaign was operating within the election law limits and that he would make “independent decisions” if elected.
Massey also appeared short on specific answers when asked about his plan to address the homeless crisis or his stance toward the controversial police tactic known as stop-and-frisk, which President Donald Trump has endorsed.
“I think the mayor would like it if we made this a referendum on the president,” he said.
When pressed further on his stance, Massey said that he would have to evaluate the situation and work with the police commissioner before conceding, “I haven’t established an answer.”