Friday, October 28, 2011
Marty knows how to milk 'em
From the NY Times:
New York City has adopted some of the strictest rules in the nation to curb the influence of money in politics. Donors with business before it are all but barred from contributing to officials in the city’s campaign finance system.
Yet in recent years, Mr. Markowitz has found another way to tap into those donors. He has established a network of four charities that has reaped at least $20 million since 2003, and probably more, according to interviews and an analysis of city records.
That amount — remarkable for any local politician, let alone one who does not hold citywide office — is a testament to Mr. Markowitz’s stature as a Brooklyn power broker and to his intense focus on building these nonprofit groups. They have in turn played an important role in burnishing his public profile.
The donors to the nonprofit groups range from huge corporations like Wal-Mart and TD Bank to local entrepreneurs, but they usually have one thing in common: They have a stake in city legislation, real estate projects, zoning disputes and other Brooklyn issues.
Mr. Markowitz has often personally cajoled wealthy executives to give tens of thousands of dollars at a time to his nonprofit groups. Some recalled that he was relentless, seemingly unable to take no for an answer.
His nonprofit network is so intertwined with his office that anyone who wants to hold events in Brooklyn Borough Hall, a stately Greek Revival building on Joralemon Street, pays a fee to one of the charities, Best of Brooklyn, not to the city. Those fees in recent years have totaled nearly $200,000, records show.