City Council candidates must blast REBNY to secure tenant group’s endorsement

From left: Tenant PAC's Michael McKee, REBNY's Robert Speyer and Steven Spinola
From left: Tenant PAC's Michael McKee, REBNY's Robert Speyer and Steven Spinola

City Council candidates will not get the endorsement of the city’s most influential tenants’ rights group unless they denounce the real estate-backed political action committee Jobs for New York, Crain’s reported.

Michael McKee, of Tenants PAC, said that candidates won’t receive his group’s backing unless they publicly denounce the independent expenditures of Jobs for New York. The PAC, backed by the Real Estate Board of New York, plans to spend up to $10 million to bolster favored candidates.

Incumbent Margaret Chin in Lower Manhattan, for instance, declined to publicly condemn the real estate spending on behalf of her candidacy, despite a career as a tenants’ rights activist.

“No matter how good her record, we told her, ‘If you don’t denounce REBNY, we’re staying out,'” McKee told Crain’s, adding. “This is REBNY, for Christ’s sake.”

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REBNY declined to comment to Crain’s.

While the REBNY group is planning to spend up to $10 million, Tenants PAC is not planning to raise cash for the campaigns, McKee told Crain’s.

“We’re finding out whether these candidates really believe that Citizens United was corrupting,” he said. “We don’t have the money, but we have the manpower.”

As of July 18, seven real estate firms — including Brookfield Office Properties, the Durst Organization and Jack Resnick & Company — donated more than half of the $5.26 million raised by Jobs for New York. [Crain’s]Julie Strickland