Friday, March 18, 2011

The Ratner-Kruger campaign connection; one month after Atlantic Yards was announced, (brother) Michael Ratner and his wife gave $2000 each

Now that charges are swirling around state Senator Carl Kruger, it's worth a look back to see how Forest City Ratner (FCR) apparently steered campaign contributions to him less than a month after the Atlantic Yards plan was announced.

Kruger, along with some other undistinguished Brooklyn politicians, received campaign contributions via a most unusual source: FCR CEO Bruce Ratner's brother Michael Ratner (below right), the eminent human rights lawyer, as well as his wife Karen Ranucci.

Kruger got $2000 from each on 1/6/04, as indicated in the graphic (click to enlarge; full list at bottom). Atlantic Yards was announced on 12/10/03.

Michael Ratner's curious pattern

Michael Ratner wouldn't comment when I first wrote about this in September 2006. I suggested that he was carrying water for his brother Bruce, who for a stretch was a "refusenik" from campaign contributions.

Michael Ratner's Brooklyn political contributions--in a pattern quite different from his other contributions to progressive politicians--seem to have been guided not by ideology but by corporate interests.

He was an investor in the Nets, as well as significant stock in the publicly traded corporation, Forest City Enterprises, controlled by the Ratners' extended family.

Indeed, the evidence is damning: Michael Ratner and his wife, Karen Ranucci, both Greenwich Village residents, both made campaign contributions using Forest City Ratner's Brooklyn building as a return address, as well as from their home address.

Money for (future) criminals?

The screenshot at left (click to enlarge) indicates only a few of the contributions made by Michael Ratner.

However, there is one significant pattern in that small sample: charges of criminality.

Brian McLaughlin, a former Assemblyman from Queens and a labor leader, in May 2009 was sentenced to ten years in prison for racketeering, including embezzlement, fraud, and bribes.

Clarence Norman, Jr., a former Assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic leader, was convicted of extortion, soliciting illegal contributions from a lobbyist and stealing $5,000 from his re-election committee, and was sentenced to to six years in prison, beginning in June 2007.

The charges against Carl Kruger have not been proven, of course, but seem serious, and could result in jail time.

There are no charges pending against state Senator Eric Adams, though he has been under investigation for his role in the Aqueduct "racino" and was criticized by the State Inspector General for "incredible" testimony. Here's his response.

Carl Kruger January 2004 Report

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