Thursday, January 9, 2020
BP candidates mandated to return real estate donor lucre
The Real Deal
Real estate donors in the Queens borough president race will see some of their checks returned, but this time it’s not because the candidates don’t want their money.
The limit for donations is $750 for candidates seeking to receive the highest level of public matching funds. For City Council member Donovan Richards, the Queens Democratic organization’s endorsed candidate, that means he will have to return as much as $21,000 to real estate donors by January 15.
Richards, who chairs the City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, pulled in at least $38,000 from real estate–related groups in his campaign — nearly 30 percent of his donations.
Richards’ largest real estate donor, the Real Estate Board of New York, contributed $4,850 through its expenditure committee, Taxpayers for an Affordable New York. Richards did not declare his run for borough president until much later. The campaign expects to return the surplus.
City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer, who has positioned himself as the progressive in the race, also received donations from the real estate industry. After The Daily News reported that he had yet to return them, he posted the returned checks on Twitter. But he has yet to return all of the donations bundled for him by real estate developer Shibber Kahn, who gathered nearly $5,000 from five donors one day in June 2018.
Astoria Council member Costa Constantinides received at least $25,390 from real estate donors, accounting for about 7 percent of his total donations through his latest public filing.
His largest real estate benefactor is the Astoria-based Scaldafiore Realty, whose personnel gave a combined $6,500 to the campaign.
Other large donors to Constantinides include Sal Lucchese, a manager at the Astoria-based The L Group, who gave $4,350; and his business partner, Astoria-based real estate attorney Philip Loria, who gave $1,500.