The Real Deal New York

Activist Mike McKee to subpoena lawmakers, real estate donors in RSA defamation suit

The landlord lobbying organization sued McKee for $40M earlier this year
August 29, 2018 01:01PM

From left: Douglas Durst, Jeff Klein, Mike McKee, and Joe Strasburg (Credit: Getty Images, iStock, Bryan Terry via City & State and Facebook)

TenantsPAC treasurer Mike McKee, who was hit with a $40 million defamation suit in June by the Rent Stabilization Association, is now planning to subpoena both state senators and real estate figures.

The tenant advocate is seeking communications to prove his assertion that the landlord lobby group RSA “promised” $150,000 in contributions to three state senators in 2010, the New York Daily News reported.

If McKee follows through with the plan, subpoenas would be sent to current Democratic State Senators Jeff Klein and David Valesky, as well as to former senators Craig Johnson and Darrel Aubertine. Additionally, McKee plans to subpoena former head of the Real Estate Board of New York Steven Spinola, the developer Douglas Durst and lobbyist Richard Runes, who is best known for his work for developer Glenwood Management.

A spokesperson for Klein told the News that, “Campaign contributions do not, and have never influenced any of Senator Klein’s policy decisions … Mike McKee is an incompetent, mean-spirited hack who sets the tenants rights movement back 30 years.”

McKee, however, seems to relish the opportunity.

“The landlord lobby has opened a big can of worms with this lawsuit and we’re going to empty that can,” he told the News. “We’re going to use the discovery process to rip the veil off the connection between the real estate money and Albany legislation.”

In its original lawsuit, RSA accused McKee of seeking “to expose RSA to public contempt, ridicule, aversion, disgrace, hatred, distrust and contempt” when McKee stated at a May City Council meeting that RSA made contribution assurances to elected officials in exchange for specific votes on rent-related matters.

A review of state election records by The Real Deal did not turn up direct contributions of $150,000 from RSA to the three senators in question (Aubertine, Johnson and Valesky.) At the time the lawsuit was filed, however, McKee insisted the quid pro quo occurred.

“They bought off three Democratic Senators,” he told TRD. [NYDN] — Will Parker