The Real Deal New York

Tish James refunds $10K contribution from Rivington House’s Joel Landau

It's the AG candidate's second 5-digit donation from a controversial nursing home landlord
By Will Parker | September 06, 2018 04:00PM

NYC Public Advocate Letitia James (Credit: Getty Images)

New York Attorney General candidate Letitia James refunded a $10,000 campaign contribution from Joel Landau, a nursing home landlord who was recently disciplined by the state’s top prosecutor.

In 2015, Landau’s Allure Group paid the New York City government $16 million to lift a deed restriction on the Rivington House facility for HIV/AIDS patients so it could sell the building to Slate Property Group, a developer that sought to convert the property into luxury housing. Allure also converted the CABS Nursing Home in Brooklyn into apartments, which led to a lawsuit. Landau settled with AG Eric Schneiderman earlier this year after an investigation into the company.

New York State Board of Elections records show Landau made the contribution on Aug. 29 and James’ campaign refunded it by Sept. 5.

“There is a conflict in accepting funds from companies or individuals currently being sued by the Attorney General’s office or with recent legal matters before the office,” said Delaney Kempner, a spokesperson for James, adding that it is campaign policy not to accept funds from such an entity.

Landau did not respond to a request for comment. In 2011, he also donated in the AG race, giving $10,000 to Schneiderman, records show. He’s also donated multiple times to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

As New York City’s Public Advocate, James joined other city officials in 2016 in condemning what occurred at the Rivington House, blaming the “opaque” process the city has for removing deed restrictions, according to the Gotham Gazette.

Mayor Bill de Blasio accused Allure of lying to the city about its intentions to keep Rivington a nursing home when it asked for the deed restriction to be lifted. “I would also like to keep the home as it is,” Landau wrote the city in 2014.

A Department of Investigations report later found that the city had failed to protect the building when it had the opportunity. At CABS in Brooklyn, Allure was sued by a company who alleged it was also lied to about Allure’s true intentions. In January of this year, Allure settled with the former AG after an investigation involving both nursing homes, agreeing to pay $2 million in penalties and donations to health care nonprofits.

So far this cycle, James has also received a $15,000 contribution from an LLC connected to Bent Philipson, a partner in the SentosaCare nursing home company, whose employees were disciplined by Schneiderman. The company is also the subject of an indentured servitude lawsuit in New York.

James’ campaign previously told The Real Deal it would refund Philipson’s contribution and another donation from the developer Peter Procida, but the refunds have yet to be recorded in state elections records. A TRD analysis found that James campaign has received more individual donations from real estate business people than the other three Democratic primary candidates for Attorney General.