Friday, May 18, 2012

From the Real Deal: a profile of former City Hall officials "who wield big influence" in real estate includes Forest City's Ashley Cotton estate meets politics

The Real Deal's May issue offers Where real estate meets politics: A look at former City Hall politicos who wield big influence in the industry:
With Mayor Michael Bloomberg nearing the end of his third (and final) term, it’s no surprise that many of his top aides have now caught a case of government fatigue and fled to the private sector. And a high percentage of those who’ve worked for the pro-development mayor have been tapped for jobs in the real estate industry.
While hiring a former administration official (or former City Council member) doesn’t get a real estate firm the keys to City Hall, it can provide valuable insight when it comes to navigating the ins and outs of government.
...But there are firewalls in place: For example, an ex-government official can’t lobby their former employer for a year after stepping down, and can’t ever advocate for a project that he or she voted on while in office.
So that means, for example, that Forest City Ratner's Ashley Cotton, who's among those profiled in the piece, can't be lobbying City Hall for a year.

(Note that, despite the Real Deal's description, Cotton previously worked as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Mayor's Office, and before that the New York City Economic Development Corporation and under Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.)

Forest City's rep

Here's the section, in full:
Ashley Cotton
Then: Senior Policy Adviser, EDC
Now: Vice President, External Affairs, Forest City Ratner
Cotton — who got her start helping manage Andrew Cuomo’s successful campaign for state attorney general in the mid-2000s and later worked for deputy mayor Bob Steel — only recently left the public sector.
At Forest City, she will focus on the opening of Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards, which is set to debut with a Sept. 28 concert featuring Jay-Z.
The opening “is a huge moment for Brooklyn, and as a Clinton Hill resident, I’m thrilled to be a part of it,” she wrote in an e-mail. “There is no question that my City Hall experience was ideal preparation for working on a project that is going to be a game changer for this borough.”
Cotton replaces government relations executive Bruce Bender, who also formerly worked for the city as policy advisor to the mayor. Cotton said Bender left to start his own consulting business.
Yes, Bender left--just before he testified in a federal corruption trial.

Firms in and out of favor

Last month, The Real Deal published Making nice with Mike: Developers with close ties to City Hall, and who’s out of favor. The list of those firms that have established warm relationships with City Hall and other public officials included:
  • Related Companies
  • Vornado Realty Trust
  • Two Trees Development
  • BFC Partners
  • Extell Development Company
Forest City didn't make the list. (Nor, of course, did it make the list of those out of favor.) But surely the relationship is pretty warm.

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