His lone real estate donor says it’s “a fad,” but Ben Kallos returns industry money

Council member returned three checks totaling $425

TRD New York /
Jan.January 16, 2020 01:47 PM
Ben Kallos (right) (Credit: iStock, Getty Images)

Ben Kallos (right) (Credit: iStock, Getty Images)

Like Council member Mark Levine, his rival in the race to be Manhattan borough president, Upper East Side City Council member Ben Kallos has been returning checks from the real estate industry, making good on a 2013 pledge to reject such donations.

Yet while Kallos toes the progressive line, one real estate professional he does accept money from doesn’t think rejecting real estate money will remain in style forever.

“My position on politicians that don’t take real estate money is that it’s a fad that’s popular today,” donor Adam Mermelstein told the Daily News. “I’m not sure if it’s something that’s going to last for too much longer.”

Kallos returned three checks from the real estate industry last year totaling $425, and plans to return another $100 check from a Sotheby’s agent. He has yet to return a larger donation from Mermelstein, a principal of Treetop Development who also chairs the Council of Jewish Emigré Community Organizations. Mermelstein has donated $2,200 to Kallos since his City Council run in 2013, including $600 last year.

Many politicians in city and state races have rejected real estate donations in an effort to distance themselves from the most powerful industry in the city, which is seen by tenant advocates as having undue influence over the political process. [NYDN] — Georgia Kromrei


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