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Real-estate honchos dump big bucks into Gov. Cuomo’s re-election bid – New York Post

Deep-pocketed donors with ties to New York’s real-estate industry are still putting their money behind embattled three-term Gov. Andrew Cuomo, campaign records reveal.

Developers, landlords, building lenders and other industry associates pumped nearly $500,000 into Cuomo’s re-election coffers over the past six months.

That’s more than 20 percent of the $2.3 million raised by Cuomo for the first half of 2021.

Many of the contributions poured in right before the campaign fundraising deadline.

Housing activists blasted the donations, noting that an important state law expires next June 15 that gives luxury developers’ projects generous tax abatements for charging non-market or “affordable” rents for up to 30 percent of their new apartments.

general view of the New York City skyline
Real-estate industry associates pumped nearly $500,000 into Cuomo’s re-election over the past six months.
Christopher Sadowski

The program is supported by the Real Estate Board of New York, which donated $5,000 to Cuomo from its political action committee.

“It’s classic pay-to-play. There’s no doubt about it,” Michael McKee of the Tenants PAC, which wants the law repealed, charged of the political donations to Cuomo.

“We are going to spearhead a major campaign to terminate this law. It’s totally obscene we are subsidizing millionaires and billionaires with property tax breaks. There’s a glut of luxury housing.”

Republican billionaire businessman and talk show host John Catsimatidis
Republican billionaire businessman and talk show host John Catsimatidis gave $25,000 to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Helayne Seidman

The so-called 421-A tax abatement was renewed in 2015 and 2017, when Republicans controlled the state Senate. The Democrats now control both houses of the Legislature and may be less inclined to give more than $1 billion a year in tax breaks to developers’ apartment complexes in exchange for affordable housing set-asides.

Forty donors with ties to real estate contributed to Cuomo’s re-election, totaling $465,000, the campaign filing shows.

The donors include billionaire metro-area landlord Richard LeFrak, who kicked in $33,000 to Cuomo’s coffers earlier this year.

Gary Barnett
Gary Barnett gave $19,700 to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Executives with ties to Related Companies gave $65,000 — including $25,000 from billionaire developer and chairman Stephen Ross. The firm developed Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, which includes residential buildings that receive property-tax abatements.

Gary Barnett, CEO of Extell Company, also contributed $19,700.

Extell’s One57 condo skyscraper on 57th Street in Midtown qualified for the 421-A tax abatement program before the program was revamped. Other Extell properties that obtained tax breaks include one Manhattan Square on the Lower East Side and One Riverside Park on the Upper West Side.

Executives with RXR Realty donated $50,000, and those who work for Two Trees Management gave $25,000.

RXR Realty honcho Scott Rechler donated space at his building in Rockefeller Plaza for Cuomo’s June 30 fundraiser, where the minimum asking price was $10,000 a head and $15,000 per couple.

Two Trees develops, owns and manages apartments in downtown and brownstone Brooklyn, including in the neighborhoods of DUMBO and Williamsburg, with some sites receiving tax abatements. The firm is transforming the Domino Sugar factory waterfront site.

Kylie Cappelli, the actress-wife of developer Louis Cappelli, kicked in $50,000.

Adam and Ivan Kaufman of Arbor Realty delivered $25,000 to Cuomo’s campaign treasury.

Susanne Durst, the wife of Durst Organization head Douglas Durst, donated $10,000.

The Durst Organization qualified for tax abatements for the Hallet’s Point waterfront residential complex in Astoria, Queens.

Businessman John Catsimatidis
John Catsimatidis said he’s loyal to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Republican billionaire mogul John Catsimatidis, whose $2 billion real-estate portfolio has received tax abatements and includes new waterfront apartments in Brooklyn’s Coney Island, gave $25,000 to Cuomo as well as $10,000 to Republican gubernatorial hopeful Lee Zeldin.

Catsimatidis, said he’s loyal to Cuomo, whom he’s known for decades along with his late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

“The Andrew Cuomo family and the Catsimatidis family have been friends for a long time,” he said. “The Cuomo family has had common sense for a long time.”

Catsimatidis, who holds a top leadership position in the Greek Orthododox Church of North America, said Cuomo was helpful in jump-starting reconstruction of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Lower Manhattan last year. The structure was ravaged during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Port Authority Board member Scott Rechler
Port Authority Board member Scott Rechler donated space at his building in Rockefeller Plaza for a fundraiser for Andrew Cuomo’s re-election.
Stephen Yang

Meanwhile, Catsimtatidis said that what happens to the 421-A tax abatement program is a litmus test that could determine whether he continues to invest in New York or elsewhere. He said New York can’t afford to be anti-development.

“If you don’t have common-sense Democrats, the billions of dollars will flow elsewhere, and the jobs will flow with it,” he said.

The head of the Real Estate Board of New York also continues to give Cuomo’s leadership a thumb’s up — despite the governor battling investigations over his handling of nursing homes in the state during the pandemic as well as sexual-harassment accusations from current and former staffers. Cuomo denies wrongdoing on both fronts.

“As New York continues on the path to economic recovery, competent and experienced government leadership will play a pivotal role in guiding the State forward at this critical time,” REBNY President James Whelan said in a statement.

Miami Dolphin's owner Stephen Ross
Miami Dolphin’s owner Stephen Ross gave $25,000 to Cuomo’s re-election.
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File

Last week, The Post reported that associates connected with a firm that was awarded $62 million in state COVID-19 emergency contracts — the Somos Health Care Providers — delivered $230,000 in donations to Cuomo’s re-election kitty.

Team Cuomo dismissed criticism that the governor was influenced by real-estate donations and defended his record on affordable housing.

“Give me a break – I’d put this governor’s record on protecting tenant rights and advancing and building affordable housing against anyone any time, any day,” said Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi.

“The cranks in the advocacy industrial complex can say what they want, but they can’t change facts.”

Cuomo is seeking to run and win a fourth term in 2022. His father, Mario Cuomo, lost to Republican George Pataki when he ran for a fourth term in 1994.



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