Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Catching up on Bruce Ratner's campaign contributions: to de Blasio and New York Uprising (and would past gift to Schneiderman stave off Downtown Brooklyn Partnership investigation?)

After late 2010 campaign contributions to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and to Senate Republicans, Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner has made two other notable contributions.

On 12/23/10, he gave $4,950, the maximum, to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a likely 2013 mayoral candidate and a reliable, if not always credible, Atlantic Yards supporter. Ratner in June was the co-chair of a de Blasio fundraiser.

Ratner on 4/1/11 gave $25,000 to New York Uprising, the clean-up Albany effort founded by his old mentor Henry Stern of New York Civic, with support from several noted former elected officials, including former Mayor Ed Koch.


Ethics reform?

New York Uprising aims at non-partisan, independent redistricting, responsible budgeting, and ethics reform. Ethics reform, however, does not preclude asking legislators like Senator Carl Kruger for public money to fulfill private obligations, like the rebuilding of the Carlton Avenue Bridge.

While there likely are multiple reasons for the Schneiderman contribution, it does correlate with the AG's  non-resumption of the reported investigation into the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership's alleged improper lobbying. As I wrote 3/6/11, I couldn't get any answers from the Attorney General's office.

The AG is supposed to be continuing former Attorney General and now Governor Andrew Cuomo's investigation of questionable lobbying by the Flushing-Willets Point-Corona Local Development Corporation (FWPCLDC), paid by the city to lobby for the Willets Point redevelopment plan before the city. But the details are vague.

Failure to communicate

In fact, the AG's been so quiet on the Willets Point issue that it's confused other state agencies. In a 10/14/11 article headlined Group Under Fire Gets Grant, the Wall Street Journal reported:
The New York State Department of State awarded a Queens development group a $1.5 million grant, despite a continuing investigation by the Attorney General into allegations that the group conducted an extensive lobbying effort in violation of state law.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office said last month it couldn't block the grant because the comptroller's office couldn't confirm the Attorney General is investigating the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corp., a group led by former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman.

It was unclear why the comptroller's office was unable to determine the status of the investigation. Danny Kanner, a spokesman for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office, told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that the probe remains active, but declined to comment further.

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