Donors from New York City’s real estate industry contributed more than $733,000 to the re-election campaign of Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the first half of 2018, an analysis of state contributions data by The Real Deal found.
That’s down from the more than $1.2 million property interests gave the governor during the previous six-month reporting period. Gov. Cuomo raised roughly $6 million in total contributions during both periods and now holds more than $31 million in cash for the duration of his re-election campaign.
The largest real estate donor to Cuomo during the last six months was the Douglas Durst-led Durst Organization, which contributed $75,000 across four different LLCs. Durst was followed by James L. Nederlander of the the Nederlander Organization, who contributed $65,000, and entities tied to Peter Fine‘s Atlantic Development, which gave a total of $60,000. Other top contributors include Extell Development‘s Gary Barnett ($40,000), entities tied to the publicly-traded office landlord SL Green Realty ($31,741) and Maxwell Rovt, son of billionaire Alexander Rovt ($50,000). These donors or their family members have all donated to Cuomo in the past.
The Real Estate Board of New York did not donate to Cuomo during the period (it gave $50,000 during the last reporting phase).
Meanwhile, New York’s other major landlord lobby, the Rent Stabilization Association, chose to give to the Republican candidate for governor, Marcus Molinaro, donating $44,000 across its two affiliated PACs. RSA was joined by a handful of other real estate-connected donors, including Andrea Catsimatidis ($25,000), Friedberg Milstein’s Barry Friedberg ($5,000) and Robert S. Trump, brother of President Trump, who gave $25,000. Molinaro raised $1.1 million between mid-January and mid-July.
As for Cuomo’s primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon, The Real Deal was only able to identify one New York City real estate business person among her top donors. Lawrence Benenson of Benenson Capital Partners, which is currently at work on a mostly market-rate rental building in the East Village, donated $10,000.
Cuomo’s smaller but notable real estate donors include the partnership of Maddd Equities and Joy Construction that’s attempting to build a soccer stadium in the Bronx. It gave $10,000. And Triangle Equities, which has received state subsidies for development on Staten Island, gave a total of $40,000.
During his tenure as governor, Cuomo has upheld key policies for real estate owners and developers, namely the 421a developer tax exemption that amounts to more than a billion dollars in subsidy to the real estate industry each year. But more recently, some in the industry have accused him of being pushed to the left on housing issues by the Nixon campaign, after Cuomo voiced support for ending the landlord practice of vacancy decontrol, which has allowed more than 150,000 rent-regulated apartment units to be lost from the rent rolls since the mid 1990s.