The Real Deal New York

This developer is banned from donating to city officials. Here’s the loophole it used

Heskel Group donated $14K to Jessica Ramos’ campaign, which moved it to the Hispanic Foundation
August 21, 2018 12:15PM

A rendering of 40-31 82nd Street and a person counting money (Credit: iStock)

The Heskel Group is currently prohibited from donating to city officials, but they can still donate to state candidates who those officials support—a loophole they are taking advantage of.

The Heskel Group, which is attempting to build a Target at 40-31 82nd Street in Queens with Sun Equities, has been banned from donating more than $400 to any municipal official since it asked the city to approve a zoning change for the project in February, according to Crain’s.

However, in April, the company donated $14,000 to the state Senate campaign of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s former aide Jessica Ramos, who is running against state Senator and former IDC member Jose Peralta in the primary.

Before the prohibition took effect, Heskel made donations to de Blasio, Queens borough president Melinda Katz and incoming city council member Francisco Moya.

Katz and Moya both supported the project at first, but Moya then withdrew his support after opposition from activists and the defeat of his ally Rep. Joseph Crowley by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Ramos’ campaign made a $14,000 donation in July to the Hispanic Foundation, which the campaign said represented their rejection of Heskel’s funds and support.

“Jessica Ramos does not accept donations from luxury developers—unlike Jose Peralta,” spokesperson Monica Klein told Crain’s.

Heskel and Sun will move forward with an as-of-right project but withdrew their ULURP application in July. [Crain’s] – Eddie Small