Friday, December 04, 2015

Forest City, partner U.S. Immigration Fund big spenders on EB-5 lobbying, paying D'Amato's firm

From the Real Deal, 12/2/15, Here’s what big NYC developers spent to keep EB-5 alive: Related, which raised $600M for Hudson Yards project through visa program, tops list:
If a program gave a developer $600 million in cheap financing, how much would the developer spend fighting for its right to exist?
In 2015, the Related Companies spent at least $730,000 in lobbying fees related to the viability of the EB-5 visa program, according to data from, a website that tracks lobbying expenses and campaign finance, created by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.
EB-5 offers foreign investors a green card in exchange for a $500,000 minimum investment in the U.S. economy.
Developers adore it because it’s a relatively cheap source of financing. Some prominent politicians, however, have said that it upends the usual immigration process and is rife with fraud and abuses.
With the program up for renewal on Dec. 11, Related and other major players are shelling out big sums to ensure its continuity.
Note that the $600 million cheap financing saves Related tens of millions of dollars.

Also note that it's not "a $500,000 minimum investment in the U.S. economy," but rather in a specific project that purportedly "creates" ten jobs.. The beneficiaries are the middlemen and the developer/entrepreneur, well before the public at large.

The Forest City role
Forest City Ratner spent a combined $140,000 on lobbying in 2014 and 2015, according to the database. More than 1,100 foreign investors pumped $577 million into Pacific Park Brooklyn, a joint venture between Forest City Ratner Cos. and Greenland USA.
To unpack that, the total That's $228 million for the first round, in 2010, then $249 million for "Atlantic Yards II" in 2013-14, then $100 million for "Atlantic Yards III" in 2014-15.

Greenland was not involved in the first round of fundraising.

Note that the 2015 reporting is hardly finished, so those numbers should increase. Forest City's lobbying firm is former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato's firm Park Strategies, which Forest City had paid $1.2 million since 2006, as of early 2014.

 And, guess what, Forest City's partner on the EB-5 fundraising, the regional center known as the U.S. Immigration Fund, has paid Park Strategies $140,000 this year on EB-5 lobbying. 

It's quite a fit. The U.S. Immigration Fund is run by Nicholas Mastroianni II, whom Fortune described as having a "long history of legal problems, failed ventures, and unpaid debts—which have continued even as his professional fortunes have turned sharply upward—leaving a legacy of conflicts, judgments, and entanglements."

When asked to identify "the most ethically compromised politician you ever covered," famous Village Voice muckraker Wayne Barrett replied, "There’s no fucking competition for this: Al D’Amato."

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