Monday, February 15, 2010

If Cuomo has "the strictest" campaign finance policy in the state, shouldn't he give back Bruce Ratner's $5000 contribution?

The New York Daily News reported today, in an article about the real estate industry taking advantage of campaign finance loopholes, that Andrew Cuomo's campaign spokesman, Phil Singer, said, "The AG has the strictest self-imposed campaign finance policy in the state, prohibiting donors from contributing if any matter is pending before his office and for 90 days thereafter."

(Cuomo is widely believed to be running for governor.)

Cuomo's gift from Bruce Ratner

Well, why hasn't Cuomo returned the $5000 he received on 2/4/09 from developer Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner? (Click on graphics to enlarge.)

While Ratner did not have a matter pending directly before Cuomo's office, Ratner's company was a defendant in a pending case challenging the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Atlantic Yards.

Co-defendants in an AY case

So too was the state Public Authorities Control Board, represented by Cuomo. The decision, as shown below, didn't emerge until 2/26/09. So their interests were closely aligned.

Yes, it's not an example of a direct decision by Cuomo.

But if the Attorney General, who has a vast lead over Governor David Paterson in fundraising--$16 million to $3 million, as of last month--wants to avoid the widespread perception that the real estate industry has an inside track, shouldn't he give the money back?

Also, Cuomo has since been asked to investigate Atlantic Yards and the Brooklyn Arena Local Development Corporation.

3 comments:

  1. In the recent past Cuomo has returned contributions based on the fact that his office had been asked for assistance. From the New York Times, January 29:

    “In late 2006, residents at the Newswalk building in Brooklyn, a Boymelgreen project, contacted the attorney general’s office about construction problems, said Michael Rogers, a resident and board member. On March 26, 2007, the residents’ lawyer wrote a letter to [Attorney General Andrew] Cuomo with specific complaints. His office took no action, and the residents sued the developer in November 2007.

    "In July 2008, they filed a formal complaint with the attorney general. For almost a year, they received no response, and in the summer of 2009, Lewis A. Polishook, an assistant attorney general, told the residents that the office would not get involved in a dispute that was in litigation.

    “They’ve told us, ‘You’re on your own,’ ” Mr. Rogers said.

    "Mr. Cuomo accepted three donations totaling $8,000 from Boymelgreen-related companies between Jan. 15, 2008, and May 11, 2009. After an inquiry from The Times, [Cuomo spokesman John] Milgrim said that Mr. Cuomo would return the money."

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  2. It seems that Mr. Cuomo, is adopting a pick and choose approach over law enforcement.

    Taking on the bankers? This is relatively easy: they are in widespread disfavor both of the general public and the authorities, and there is only a big upside in popularity and minimal downside risk, as the industry as a whole is wrecked.

    Taking on the abuses of the Atlantic Yards project and the public money improperly diverted from the taxpayers to subsidize a billionaire developer and a Russian oligarch?
    That requires some courage, and I'm looking forward for Mr. Cuomo to showing some sign of it.

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  3. Matteo..... you are right on target!
    The politicians all talk about their ethics, except when it comes to Atlantic Yards.... when they all (with the exception of course of Letitia James) turn into marshmallows, and cant roll over fast enough to do RATner's bidding.

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