Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…

Former ESDC CEO Lago returns to NYC to head City Planning Commission

Carl Weisbrod, Mayor Bill de Blasio's City Planning Commission Chairman and Director of the Department of City Planning, is resigning,

And he's being replaced by Marisa Lago, currently a federal official, but who Atlantic Yards-ologists remember as the short-term Empire State Development Corporation CEO who, in an impolitic but candid 2009 statement, acknowledged that the project would take "decades."

Still, Lago not long after that played the good soldier at a May 2009 Senate oversight hearing, justifying changes in the project but claiming the public benefits remained the same.

By returning to City Planning, Lago will join former ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont, who after retiring from the state (and taking a pension) got the job with the city.

Back at planning

Lago, a lawyer, in 1983 began work as an aide to City Planning Chairman Herb Sturz, and later served as the General Counsel to the president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Weisbrod himself.