Another real estate-backed PAC aims to stop socialists

New York Women Lead takes $140K from developers

<p>From left: Gabi Madden, Assemblymember Didi Barrett and Assemblymember Stefani Zinerman (Getty, Opatters0, CC BY-SA 4.0 &#8211; via Wikimedia Commons, New York State Assembly)</p>

From left: Gabi Madden, Assemblymember Didi Barrett and Assemblymember Stefani Zinerman (Getty, Opatters0, CC BY-SA 4.0 – via Wikimedia Commons, New York State Assembly)

New York real estate developers are donating to an independent campaign ostensibly focused on women’s rights but targeting socialists in this year’s Democratic primaries.

New York Women Lead is throwing its support behind some pro-industry candidates, The City reported. The political action committee is drawing scrutiny as the June 25 state and congressional primaries approach.

Initially a favorite of women’s groups, this year New York Women Lead has been largely funded by real estate dollars. The group has raked in $140,000 almost exclusively from developers, including Rudin Management, the Brodsky Organization, members of the Durst Organization and the Elghanayans.

The Real Deal previously reported on industry efforts against socialist candidates, but news about Women Lead is new.

The PAC has spent $22,000 to support incumbent Assemblymember Stefani Zinerman in Bedford-Stuyvesant against democratic socialist challenger Eon Huntley.

A source close to the group said the organization often spends on behalf of pro-choice Democratic women. Zinerman fits the bill, but Huntley is also pro-choice. The challenger, who is heavily pro-tenant, told The City he was not surprised that real estate donors are backing the incumbent.

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Huntley’s campaign filed a complaint with the New York State Board of Elections, accusing New York Women lead of coordinating with Zinerman’s campaign. Independent expenditure committees can spend on behalf of candidates, but can’t coordinate with them. Zinerman’s campaign has denied the charge.

The Huntley campaign has not been without controversy, either. The candidate lives in a building receiving the 421a tax break, which Huntley opposes.

In two other races where New York Women Lead has spent — involving two Democratic women going against one another — the group has spent on candidates less aligned with pro-tenant causes, such as good cause eviction.

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In Assembly District 103, that has meant giving Gabi Madden $34,000 in her race against incumbent Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha. In Assembly District 106, the PAC is backing incumbent Didi Barrett over Working Families Party-endorsed Claire Cousin.

“They’re misleading the voters, if they’re spending against pro-choice candidates while claiming to be supporting pro-choice candidates,” said election attorney Leo Glickman, who is working on behalf of the three candidates New York Women Lead is trying to defeat.

Holden Walter-Warner