These real estate players have raised a bundle for Biden

Scott Rechler, Jeff Worthe, George Marcus and Neil Bluhm are among prominent figures who have contributed big money to the presidential campaign

TRD NATIONAL /
Jan.January 06, 2020 05:30 PM
From left: RXR Realty's Scott Rechler, Chicago real estate mogul Neil Bluhm, Joe Biden, Adler Group's Michael Adler, L.A.-based developer Jeff Worthe (Credit: Getty Images, Adler Group, iStock)

From left: RXR Realty’s Scott Rechler, Chicago real estate mogul Neil Bluhm, Joe Biden, Adler Group’s Michael Adler, L.A.-based developer Jeff Worthe (Credit: Getty Images, Adler Group, iStock)

Scott Rechler is a self-described “longtime Biden supporter.”

But the RXR Realty CEO is one of dozens of real estate powerhouses who have raised big money for the former vice president’s 2020 presidential campaign.

In a Friday news dump on Dec. 27, Joe Biden’s team released a list of 259 “volunteer fundraisers” — individuals who had raised at least $25,000 for the campaign. In addition to the world of entertainment and politics, numerous real estate players dot the list.

An analysis by The Real Deal identified at least 35 people who have significant real estate industry ties, including Los Angeles developer Jeff Worthe, head of Worthe Real Estate Group; and billionaires Neil Bluhm, the Chicago real estate mogul who is now managing director of Walton Street Capital; and George Marcus, founder and chairman of Marcus & Millichap.

David Birdsell, a professor at Baruch College’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs in New York, said the number of contributors could have been far higher.

“I think it is significant that only 35 people in this industry have raised $25,000 or more” for Biden he said, while noting that the real estate industry traditionally skews Republican.

Biden’s backers
The three-dozen industry movers on Biden’s $25,000 and up list come from across the U.S.

Some of the others include Miami investor Michael M. Adler, whose Adler Group has developed and acquired more than 20 million square feet of industrial, office and retail space, and over 8,000 residential units. Another big name is Thad Wong, who co-founded @properties, Chicago’s dominant residential brokerage. The firm was No. 1 in the city with $6.54 billion in sales, according to a TRD March 2019 ranking.

Wong and Bluhm each hosted separate fundraisers for Biden at their homes in September. At the event in his downtown Chicago home, Bluhm introduced the former vice president, telling guests that rival presidential candidates Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders “don’t represent the Democratic Party” he supports, adding he thought Biden had the best shot at defeating President Trump.

“Mr Bluhm is right,” Sanders later responded in a statement to CNN. “The Democratic Party I represent is the party of the working class — not billionaires.”

Biden’s campaign did not explain the timing of its Dec. 27 disclosure — the list’s release was not required — and did not respond to questions from TRD about whether there were any potential conflicts among its contributors.

“At a national level you’re going to see much less concern for taking real estate money than you might in New York City, where it is such a hot-button issue,” Birdsell said. Corporate money and financial-services money caused greater alarm, he said.

Barry Gosin, the CEO of Newmark Group was also on the list; as was Bruce Mosler, chairman of global brokerage at Cushman & Wakefield; Bob Clark, CEO of Chicago-based development and construction firm Clayco; Martha Karsh, co-founder of Beverly Hills-based Clark & Karsh — an architecture, design and development firm — and Stewart W. Bainum Jr., chairman of Maryland-based Choice Hotels International, which franchises more than 7,000 hotels in 40 countries.

Tom Hendrickson, a North Carolina real estate investor and developer, is another top bundler. Hendrickson confirmed he had raised funds for Biden but declined to comment further, when contacted over LinkedIn.

David R. Topping, a Miami-based partner at ABC Properties, said he was a lifelong Republican who decided to back Biden, after supporting Trump in the last election. “I’m delighted to ask other friends of mine who have been lifelong Republicans to join also,” he said.

Mitchell Berger, a founder of the Florida law firm Berger Singerman, was also on the list. The firm has a significant real estate practice group and has helped negotiate hotel acquisitions, in addition to representing firms like New York-based Terranova Properties and private prisons operator Geo Group. Thomas Safran, whose Safran & Associates is a prolific developer of luxury and affordable housing in Southern California, is another.

Q4 fundraising haul

On Jan. 2, Biden’s campaign announced it had raised $22.7 million in the fourth quarter. The figure was more than previous months and was $1.5 million ahead of what Warren took in. But he still lagged former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigeig; and was far behind the $34.5 million Sanders collected.

And unlike Sanders, who released a $2.5 trillion housing plan in September, Biden has yet to offer a comprehensive housing plan. He has stated previously that he wants to make it easier to build denser affordable housing near public transportation, has pledged to increase the energy efficiency of low-income housing and has said he wants to house all formerly incarcerated people.

Katherine Kallergis contributed reporting.
Write to Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at [email protected]

NameCity, StateDetails
Pennie AbramsonPotomac, MDWife of Gary Abramson, who is a partner in Tower Companies, a family-owned real estate development firm.
Michael M. AdlerCoral Gables, FLCEO of Adler Realty Investments.
Robert ArbourLos Angeles, CAPresident at Triple Net Equities.
Stewart W. Bainum Jr.Fulton, MDChairman of Choice Hotels International.
Mitchell W. BergerFt. Lauderdale, FLFounder and co-chair of Berger Singerman.
Neil BluhmChicago, ILReal estate and casino magnate.
Estrellita & Daniel BrodskyNew York, NYDaniel Brodsky is a real estate developer.
Sean BurtonLos Angeles, CACEO of Cityview, a multifamily and mixed-use developer. He is also president of the L.A. Board of Airport Commissioners.
Bob ClarkChicago, ILCEO of Clayco, a construction and building company.
Charlie DiradourRichmond, VAPresident of Lion’s Paw Development.
Joseph L. FalkMiami, FLPublic policy advisor who advocates to government on behalf of mortgage brokers.
William H. FreemanNashville, TNChairman and co-founder of Freeman Webb, a real estate investment firm.
Barry GosinBedford Corners, NYLongtime CEO of Newmark Group.
Jeffrey GuralNew York, NYReal estate developer, chairman of GFP Real Estate LLC.
Tom HendricksonZebulon, NCReal estate investor and developer.
Martha KarshBeverly Hills, CACo-founder of Clark & Karsh, an architecture, a design and development firm.
Alan LeventhalBoston, MAFounder, chairman and CEO of Beacon Capital Partners, a real estate investment firm.
Jeffrey and Randi LevineNew York, NYJeffrey Levine is founder and chairman of Douglaston Development.
George M. MarcusPalo Alto, CAFounder and chairman of Marcus & Millichap.
Bruce E. MoslerNew York, NYChairman of global brokerage at Cushman & Wakefield.
Patrick MurphyJupiter, FLExecutive vice president of his family's company, Coastal Construction.
Pascal NardelliPittsburgh, PAPresident of CastleBrook Development.
Richard OllerPhiladelphia, PAC0-founder and CEO of GoldOller Real Estate Investments.
Scott H. RechlerGlen Head, NYCEO of RXR Realty.
Tom SafranLos Angeles, CAHead of affordable housing developer, Safran & Associates.
Joe SchockenMercer Island, WAChairman of Broadmark Realty Capital.
James Costos & Michael SmithLos Angeles, CASmith is an interior designer.
Arthur SolomonProvidence, RIReal estate investor.
David A. SteinbergMiami, FLReal estate lawyer, partner at Gerson Preston.
Steven Swig & Mary Green SwigSan Francisco, CASteven Swig is chairman of the board of the Swig Co., a real estate investment firm.
David R. ToppingCoral Gables, FLPartner at ABC Properties.
Peter Shields & Ace WernerArlington, VAAce Werner is a real estate broker at Weichert, Realtors.
Bob WislowChicago, ILChairman & CEO of Parkside Realty.
Thad WongChicago, ILCo-founder of @properties.
Jeff WortheSanta Monica, CAHead of Worthe Real Estate Group.

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