Monday, March 7, 2016
Mayor de Blasio’s nonprofit fund-raising arm has raked in most of its money since 2014 from just over two dozen rich donors — many of whom benefited from their generosity, a Post analysis of city records has found.
Some $3.2 million of the $4.3 million donated to the Campaign for One New York came from just 30 people or entities, and 16 of them gave $50,000 or more, records show.
In one case, Joseph Dussich, CEO of Manhattan-based janitor-supply company JAD Corporation, forked over $100,000 to the mayor’s pet charity, and was granted a one-hour sit-down with him in February 2015.
A month later, the city bought $15,000 worth of rodent-repelling trash bags from him — a product Dussich had previously tried to peddle to the city without success for nearly a decade.
Meanwhile, father-and-son developers David and Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management also gave CONY $100,000.
A mayoral press release cheered affordable housing in the developers’ $2 billion project at the former Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg, and they are now potential benefactors of de Blasio’s streetcar plan connecting the Queens and Brooklyn waterfronts.
SEIU 1199, the powerful health-care-workers union, gave $500,000 to CONY, and in 2014, it received a nine-year contract with raises retroactive to 2009, records show.
“It might be appropriate for the mayor to meet with many different stakeholders, but the question is what are the consequences of access and influence of money on public policy,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York.
“We don’t want a mayor who is walled off.”
Lerner’s good government group two weeks ago filed complaints with the city’s Campaign Finance Board and Conflicts of Interest Board calling for an investigation into whether the nonprofit and others promoting de Blasio are spawning a “shadow government” at City Hall through big-buck spending and fund-raising that skirt city campaign finance laws, such as a $4,950 limit that donors can provide a specific candidate during an election cycle.
De Blasio participated in at least 31 work meetings or phone calls through September with 16 of these 30 major CONY donors — or those directly linked to these donors, records show.
He also attended 23 conferences and other gatherings with CONY contributors – plenty of whom shelled out six-figure donations and regularly do business with the city – and many times publicly showered them with compliments at events.
De Blasio also featured these top CONY donors – which include developers, entrepreneurs and labor unions – in at least 17 of his office’s press releases, often praising them and providing them a free platform to gain positive media attention.
Leading the donor pack were 1199 SEIU, and left-leaning hedge fund tycoon George Soros’s nonprofit Fund for Policy Reform Inc., which gave $500,000 each.
De Blasio met with Soros’ son, Alexander, for lunch in Southhampton in August 2015, even taking time to pose for photos the scion later posted on social media websites. He also met with Soros’ son, Jonathan, six months earlier, and the Soros family helped arrange for de Blasio to be keynote speaker at the April 2014 Democratic Alliance Conference in Chicago.
George Gresham, president of 1199 SEIU, met privately with De Blasio at Gracie Mansion in December 2014, attended three events with him and was also featured on two press releases.
During a June 2015 union event, de Blasio praised Gresham before a crowd of supporters, saying, “God bless you and thank you” for his leadership.
The remaining $1.1 million collected by CONY came from 100-plus more frugal donors who didn’t get such perks.
De Blasio spokeswoman Karen Hinton said CONY has gone above and beyond legal requirements for disclosing donors and spending.
“Even though similar nonprofits generally do not disclose their donors, Campaign for One New York does,” she said. “This [Post] story would not have been possible to write otherwise. The only ‘shadow’ is the one reflected from the light Campaign for One New York shines on each and every contribution