These real estate heavyweights were invited to Cuomo’s secretive fundraiser

The ever-colorful John Catsimatidis said that over his 50 years in business, he's gotten "ungatz" from the city or state
March 28, 2019 09:30AM

From left: Douglas Durst, Andrew Cuomo, and John Castimatidis (Credit: Getty Images)

Developer Douglas Durst and billionaire John Castimatidis were among the bigwigs invited to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s secretive fundraiser earlier this month.

Durst, chairman of the Durst Organization, donated but didn’t attend the event, which was held at the St. Regis Hotel, the New York Times reported. The minimum donation per couple was $25,000.

Catsimatidis said he did not contribute or go to the event — and said he was invited because of his longtime friendship with the governor. “I go back with the governor 20 years,” he told the Times.

“In 50 years in business, I have never gotten anything from the city or the state,” the Red Apple Group head told the Times. “You know what I’ve gotten? Ungatz. That’s Italian, I think.””

Other real estate figures who received invites included Island Capital Group’s Andrew Farkas and Atlantic Development Group’s Peter Fine, according to the Times.

The dinner was kept under the radar and not listed on Cuomo’s calendar. The invitation, too, was vaguely worded, the report said.

The pricey fundraiser was planned as the New York State budget comes due — and lobbyists advised clients that the event would be good for them to attend. Guests included senior Cuomo administration officials, including the state budget director Robert Mujica.

Cuomo gave a speech to a room of about 100 people, talking about Amazon, the tumult in Washington and the transition from campaigning to governing.

Two months earlier, Cuomo promised to work on campaign finance reform. He signed new limitations on corporate donations and he has vowed to “combat big money in politics.” The governor has been a big fundraiser himself, with the vast portion of his political donations coming from big checks.

Last year, he accumulated more than $30 million in his campaign war chest, before a pricey effort to fend off a primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon. [NYT] — Meenal Vamburkar