Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Campaign contributions: Forest City bundles for Thompson, de Blasio, Squadron, even gets Republican subcontractor in Virginia to pony up

So, does developer Forest City Ratner support any candidates in the 2013 election?

Campaign finance reports suggest significant support via bundling for mayoral candidates Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson, as well as some support for Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Notably, a prominent Republican executive in Virginia, whose steel company produces key components for both the arena and the first modular tower, has contributed $1,000 to Democrats Thompson and Quinn, in one case through an FCR intermediary. (Do the candidates know his company is non-union?)

Comptroller John Liu, probably (and perceivedly) the main candidate most critical of Atlantic Yards and development, has received no FCR-related contributions. (His campaign also has some ethical question marks.)

In the race for Public Advocate, where anti-Atlantic Yards Council Member Letitia James is one of three candidates, Forest City-related contributions clearly favor fundraising leader state Sen. Daniel Squadron, who's pretty much sat out the AY debate and is close with project supporter Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Contributions to de Blasio

In June 2011, Bruce Ratner hosted a birthday party/fund-raiser for de Blasio. In February 2012, the New York Post reported that there were two snags in FCR-related contributions to de Blasio. First, $4,500 of $8,500 total were not listed as coming through an FCR intermediary.

Second, the intermediary was listed as FCR construction chief Bob Sanna, though, as the Post's David Seifman wrote, "There’s no way Sanna would do any of this without direction from Ratner, who has made no secret of his support for de Blasio." (That doesn't prevent Sanna from being the formal conduit, however.)

Sanna as intermediary has now raised a total of $13,600 for de Blasio, or $5,100 since last year's filing. Most of the individuals have some piece of the Atlantic Yards project as subcontractors.


Note that Forest City executive Ashley Cotton, who left the New York City Economic Development Corporation in early 2012, is mistakenly listed for this 2013 contribution in her old job.

Contributions for Thompson

Forest City has a long history of helping Thompson. As I reported in September 2006, in 2001, Michele de Milly, whose firm has long done p.r. for FCR, organized five contributions of $4500--for a total of $22,500--to Thompson's campaign for city comptroller.

The donors were Bruce Ratner's brother Michael, Michael's wife Karen Ranucci, Ratner's companion (and now wife) Pamela Lipkin,  Ratner's daughter Rebecca Ratner, and his sister Ellen Ratner.

As shown in the graphic below, Sanna in recent months bundled $4,000 for Thompson, significantly from Atlantic Yards subcontractors.


The largest donor, at $1,000, is Don Banker of Lynchburg, VA, CEO of Banker Steel, which has major contracts for the arena and first tower.  (In 2009 Banker lent his plane to the three-member state Republican ticket, along with Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate, according to the Washington Post.)

Also, Bruce Ratner bundled $8,900 in the form of two maximum $4,950 contributions for Thompson,  from Arthur and Selma Rabin.

Arthur Rabin, as the screenshot at right suggests, is a longtime Nets investor and member of the board that runs the team and has majority ownership in the arena.

More Thompson connections

Ratner's sister Ellen Ratner has also given the maximum to Thompson and to Squadron, as the screenshot below shows.



So too has Ratner's wife Pamela Lipkin.



Squadron contributions

Beyond the two max Squadron contributions noted above, Bruce Ratner bundled two max contributions from the Rabins. That's total of four contributions worth $17,800.


Forest City's Ashley Cotton also has given Squadron $400.



Other FCR-related contributions

The list below of most (but not all) contributions from people reporting Forest City Ratner as an employer doesn't provide much of a pattern--and, of course, not every contribution is driven by corporate interests.

Most of the smaller contributions, which come at different times, seem unrelated, though there are two simultaneous $175 contributions to Thompson, which may have come at a single fundraiser.

Note that FCR Executive VP Maryanne Gilmartin, Ratner's heir apparent, contributed $1,000 to Quinn in 2007, before both Quinn and incumbent Mayor Mike Bloomberg got their third terms.



More from Banker

Virginia-based steel executive Banker gave $1,000 not only to Thompson, as noted above, but also, as the screenshot below shows, to Quinn. He also contributed $250 to Manhattan Borough President candidate Council Member Jessica Lappin.


Why Lappin? Hard to tell, though Gilmartin a few months later gave Lappin $320.


Forest City does more work in Brooklyn than Manhattan, but may be bidding soon on a big Lower East Side project.

A contribution to Suajani

Ratner's daughter Rebecca (assuming it's not another person with her name) gave the max contribution to the third Public Advocate candidate, Reshma Saujani, likely for reasons unrelated to any development issues.

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