In his quest to keep two feet firmly planted in Albany after 2018, Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised $5.1 million in campaign contributions between January and July, including at least $595,000 from active New York City real estate developers and executives.
The most generous among them were familiar faces behind much less familiar shell companies. Between two LLCs, developer Fisher Brothers poured $120,000 into the governor’s re-election war chest. The company already gave Cuomo $130,000 in January, making the family real estate business one of Cuomo’s biggest campaign backers so far this year. Also contributing big was Scott Rechler’s RXR Realty, which gave $65,000 with “Rexscott LLC.” On the same day, another donor, “Gabeli Holdings LLC,” also gave $65,000 using the same Uniondale, New York address. Earlier this year, Rechler was appointed by Cuomo to the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and previously served on the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Other big donors included Russian fertilizer magnate Alexander Rovt and his wife Olga, who collectively gave $75,000. Rovt is currently planning two five-star hotels for the city, one in Manhattan and another in Brooklyn. In November, Rovt attempted to donate $10,000 to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, $7,300 above the allowed maximum contribution.
EB-5 guru Nicholas Mastroianni and his US Immigration Fund chipped in a total of $40,000. US Immigration Fund has brokered EB-5 financing for a number of Manhattan luxury condos, as well as for two Kushner Companies projects in New Jersey. Earlier this year, Mastroianni’s son ranked among a number of prominent executives who gave $100,000 to President Trump’s inaugural committee.
Empire Realty Trust’s Anthony Malkin contributed $50,000 to Cuomo during the reporting period. Between two LLC’s, World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein gave $25,000. Other notable donors included Joe Cayre, Francis Greenburger, Mark Stagg, Harold Fetner, Keith Rubenstein’s Somerset Partners and Nazee Moinian, wife of developer Joseph Moinian. Margo Catsimatidis, spouse to Red Apple Group CEO John Catsimatidis, also donated.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman raised $1.6 million for his own reelection campaign during the reporting period. Far less of it — at least $46,500 — came from New York City real estate. Those donors included Donald Zucker Company, Jeff Gural, Jonathan Rose, Scott Rechler, Sheldon Solow and Bruce Mosler.
Jamie Gorelick, an attorney to White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, in May donated $1,000 to Schneiderman, who is actively investigating the Eric Trump Foundation’s fundraising practices at a Trump Organization golf course. Schneiderman is also investigating real estate loans obtained by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
As The Real Deal reported, real estate industry-connected PACs are gearing up their spending ahead of New York’s 2018 races. The political arm of the Real Estate Board of New York has spent about $300,000 so far this year and two PACs affiliated with the Rent Stabilization Association are sitting on $2 million of deployable cash.