Government for Sale

PHOTO: Creative Commons

The real estate industry is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s number one backer and it is getting its money’s worth

By Georgia Kromrei | 13 August 2018

THE INDYPENDENT — As Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepped out from between the columns of the neoclassical-style venue on Park Avenue on June 14, shepherded by police officers into a waiting SUV, he likely heard the thousand or so housing activists on both sides of the building’s entrance, chanting his name. Unlike the nonunion contractor inside, the Building Trades Employers’ Association, which had just given him its “Master Builder” award, the demonstrators were not there to sing the governor’s praises. The rally was a show of grass-roots force urging Cuomo to strengthen New York’s rent laws when they expire next year, rather than allow them to unravel further.

The governor did not acknowledge the protesters. That’s not surprising, as he has received more campaign contributions from real estate than any other industry while allowing a housing crisis to fester and spread since he took office in 2011.

Real-estate groups have given Cuomo $12.3 million since 2010, including $1.9 million so far this election cycle, according to an open-source data analysis conducted by The Indypendent. They give it through their political action committees, firms, employees and limited liability corporations. LLCs are shell companies commonly used to shield a company’s holdings from the financial liabilities of one property — but in what is called the “LLC loophole,” state campaign-finance laws let landlords game the system: they can donate the maximum amount permitted for an individual business from multiple LLCs. […]

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