Real estate bigwigs get political

<span style="font-style: italic;">As comptroller race heats up, more industry figures give to candidates</span>

Developers such as Lloyd Goldman, the Chetrit family and commercial broker Robert Knakal have recently opened their wallets to candidates in the citywide race for comptroller.

During the most recent fundraising period, City Council Member David Yassky from Brooklyn took in the largest amount of contributions from real estate interests among the major contenders for the office, an analysis by The Real Deal of the most recent Campaign Finance Board filings found. The period covered July 12 to Aug. 10.

But while Yassky bested his rivals in real estate donations in the most recent fundraising period, he remains behind Queens Council Members Melinda Katz, John Liu and David Weprin in both overall real estate contributions and in total contributions for the full campaign cycle.

A Quinnipiac poll last month showed that the race is a toss-up. It found Liu with 17 percent of the vote, Yassky and Katz tied at 16 percent and Weprin trailing with 5 percent. The election is set for Sept. 15, with a runoff contest Sept. 29 in the likely event that no candidate wins more than 40 percent of the vote.

The comptroller oversees the city’s pension funds, which invest in real estate assets. That makes the race one that many in the real estate industry are keeping a close eye on because whoever wins has the potential to make important investment decisions.

The breakdown of donations shows that Yassky took in $41,340 from real estate interests in the most recent period and $285,750 during the entire election cycle in which he raised about $1.72 million.

Meanwhile, Katz, who chairs the council’s powerful land use committee, took in the second greatest amount of real estate funds, roughly $21,000 in the most recent period. But she raised the most from the industry in total with more than $1 million of her $2.4 million war chest coming from the industry.

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Weprin and Liu took in a total of $437,115 and $307,325 in real estate donations, respectively.

Yassky’s district includes Williamsburg and Greenpoint, which have been heavily developed with new condos in recent years.

Donations to Yassky during the recent month-long period include $4,950 from Lloyd Goldman, the press-shy head of BLDG Management (see related story on page 27); $2,450 from Yitzchak Tessler, CEO of Tessler Developments; and $1,000 from David Greenbaum, president of the New York office of Vornado Realty Trust.

Katz’s top real estate contributors from the most recent filing include Judy Kalikow, wife of developer Peter Kalikow, who gave the maximum $4,950, and three members of the Chetrit family who gave a combined $7,500. The Kalikow family has given a combined $32,200 to Katz since the campaign began, records show.

Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal Realty Services, contributed $175 to Katz in the last filing period. But in prior periods he favored Weprin, giving him a total of $1,750.

Weprin raised about $1,675 from people with real estate-related interests out of a total $34,614 he received over the past month. And Liu received about $500 from real estate interests from $5,125 raised in the most recent period.

“I have not targeted any people or occupation. Basically we want support from everybody, and that includes some people with real estate interests,” Liu said.

He has raised the most, some $2.9 million, but the lowest ratio from real estate. Also, he has slowed his fundraising efforts in recent weeks because with the addition of matching funds, he has raised more money than campaign finance limits allow him to spend.