New York Daily News EXCLUSIVE: Mayor de Blasio relying on big money donors for re-election bid by Erin Durkin
TODD MAISEL/NEW YORK DAILY NEWSThe re-election campaign has brought in 512 separate donations, and 148 of them have been for at least $4,950, a Daily News review of finance data reveals.
Mayor de Blasio is increasingly relying on big money donors as he raises cash for his re-election bid.
More than 29% of the contributions de Blasio has raked in so far have come in the legal max of $4,950 — up from just 5% when he first ran for mayor in 2013, campaign finance records show.
The re-election campaign has brought in 512 separate donations, and 148 of them have been for at least $4,950, a Daily News review of finance data reveals.
Of the $1.1 million de Blasio has raised, $722,740 of it comes from maximum contributions — some 64%. That compares to 36% in the last race, when de Blasio raised a total of $10.6 million — $3.8 million of it from donors giving the max.
De Blasio’s re-election effort is at an early stage. Until now, Hizzoner and his allies have directed much of their fundraising attention to the Campaign for One New York — a group that could collect unlimited donations, not bound by the $4,950 limit, and was created to promote the mayor’s political agenda.
Amid criticism and a formal complaint from the good government group Common Cause, the mayor announced last week that the group would shut down.
De Blasio kicked off his re-election bid with a fundraiser last October at a Midtown hotel. Much of his fundraising haul so far comes from that event. He has also sent out a few e-mails soliciting money from supporters, including one slamming GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s attacks on “New York values.”
“If you agree that these are real New York values, I hope you will stand with me and chip in $20, $10, or whatever you can afford to make your voice heard,” he wrote.
The mayor’s aides expect more small donations to come in later.
“We are confident that our campaign will receive plenty of grassroots support as we begin fundraising in earnest,” said de Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan.
Under the city’s campaign finance system, the first $175 of contributions is matched by public dollars at a rate of six to one.
“It might be a function of the calendar,” said Susan Lerner of Common Cause. “It's not unexpected that there isn’t as much of an emphasis on the small dollar donations before matching funds kick in.”
Legislation was introduced in the City Council by Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) this week to increase that to $250 in an effort to stem reliance on big money donors able to give the max.
Many of the donors who have given the max to de Blasio come from the real estate industry, which has an interest in city housing and land use policies.
Jane Walentas, the wife of developer David Walentas, gave, and the late John Zuccotti and wife Susan each gave $4,950. So did Daniel and Jack Rosen of Rosen Partners, and at least three different people tied to the Durst Organization and four people tied to the Witkoff Group.
Billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros has also already given the max to de Blasio’s campaign, as has his son Alexander.
Real estate dominated the donor list of Campaign for One New York, and some companies or people tied to them have given to both the unlimited spending group and the campaign.
Two Trees Management, run by Walentas, gave $100,000 to Campaign for One New York. Zuccotti’s Brookfield Properties gave $50,000, and Rosen Partners gave $25,000. Developer Alexander Levin gave $40,000 to that group, plus a $4,950 gift to the re-election campaign. Soros’s non-profit Fund for Policy Reform gave a total of $500,000 to the political group.