JAM News
Wednesday, January 27, 2021

How much mayoral candidates have received from real estate so far


The city’s real estate industry is not shying away from donating to candidates in the upcoming mayoral election, even as some have pledged not to take its money.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has received the most donations from the industry for his campaign so far, according to a Crain’s analysis of mid-January data from the New York City Campaign Finance Board. Adams, who said he will accept the funding, as of press time had received more than $212,000 from people who work in real estate.

Former Citi executive Ray McGuire came next, with about $179,000 in contributions from the industry. Shaun Donovan, former Housing and Urban Development secretary, who has pledged only to turn down money from people on Public Advocate Jumaane Williams’ worst landlords list, has received about $64,000 from the industry.

The other candidates who have said they will accept real estate money—military veteran Zach Iscol, former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and former Veterans’ Services Commissioner Loree Sutton—have received about $22,000, $16,000 and $6,000, respectively, from people in the industry, according to finance board data. Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who only recently made his mayoral campaign official, had just 10 donors listed in the finance board’s database as of Jan. 20, none of whom appeared to have ties to the real estate industry.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer pledged in early 2019 that he would not accept contributions from developers for his mayoral campaign. But he did not extend the pledge to a ban on contributions from everyone who works in real estate, and he will not be returning developer donations that he received before making the pledge, he said. His campaign has so far received about $114,000 from real estate professionals.

Former mayoral counsel Maya Wiley, City Councilman Carlos Menchaca and former nonprofit executive Dianne Morales all have pledged more broadly not to take any money from the real estate industry during their campaigns. Morales’ and Menchaca’s camps had received about $2,200 and $660, respectively, from people who work in real estate as of mid-January; both pledged to refund the money.

Wiley’s campaign has received about $7,900 in real estate donations, according to finance board data. Representatives for her campaign did not respond to a request for comment about whether she would return the money.

Pledges not to take money from real estate likely stem from an effort to gain credibility among New Yorkers concerned about gentrification and rising rents. And candidates who are not making a pledge likely do not see a problem disagreeing with an industry they have accepted money from, says political strategist Bruce Gyory. What remains to be seen, he said, is how much the pledge will matter to voters.

“I think this will be a test, and I think it will come down to, do voters really care?” Gyory said. “And they may. It may become a badge of honor, but we don’t know.”

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