After awarding development contracts to four developers, Mayor Bill de Blasio picked up the phone and asked for donations to his political nonprofit, according to The City.
In one case in 2015, Douglaston Development won a contract to have city-owned land transferred for development of an affordable apartment complex in the Bronx, and received $12.4 million in financing for the 425-unit, $157 million project at East 149th Street in the Bronx. A few weeks later, the mayor called and mentioned his nonprofit, Campaign for One New York, and told the developer to expect a follow-up call from a representative of the organization. When Douglaston was contacted, the developer donated $25,000. Douglaston told investigators it did not recall de Blasio asking for money.
Citing a redacted New York City Department of Investigation report, the outlet reported that three other developers were contacted by de Blasio’s nonprofit, and in response solicited donations.
During another episode in 2013 and 2014, the mayor campaigned to stop Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill from closing. A few days before Don Peebles’ Peebles Corporation was due to bid to redevelop the site, a representative from the mayor’s nonprofit called to ask for a donation. The mayor reportedly follow up with a call minutes later, asking for a $25,000 donation. Peebles later wrote a $20,000 check, but asked for a refund after he saw advertisements made by the mayor’s nonprofit advocating for another developers plans at the site.
“I just think it’s inappropriate for the mayor of New York or the mayor of any city to be calling around to people doing business with the city, to ask them to give money to a political action committee,” Peebles told The City. “It’s unusual for a leader like that to make calls directly.”
The other developers named were Park Towers and Toll Brothers.
The mayor, who is running for president, has long been scrutinized over his relationship with the real estate industry. In 2016, a poll of New York residents found that 55 percent of people believed he “does favors for developers who make political contributions to campaigns in which he is involved.” It followed reports of the mayor’s ties to real estate investor Jona Rechnitz of JSR Capital, who was sentenced to four years as part of a federal corruption investigation. [The City] — David Jeans