Foe hits Nadler on links to Hudson builder

(DAILY NEWS) Michael Gartland, August 22, 2022

Pol got cash from bigs at firm, which now eyes W. Side casino

“Starting in 2007, cash from the deep-pocketed Related Companies began flowing into Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s campaign war chest.

Since then, campaign finance records show that Nadler, who’s locked in a tight congressional race with Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Suraj Patel, has raked in more than $60,000 from the firm’s chairman, Stephen Ross, and donors connected to Ross and the firm.

Related is the primary developer behind Hudson Yards, a gleaming conglomeration of skyscrapers and upscale shops on the West Side, and the company is now seeking to bring a casino to the high-end enclave.

Ross, also an owner of the Miami Dolphins, came under fire in 2019 from the left for hosting a fundraiser for former President Donald Trump.

These factors — along with other connections between Nadler and Related — are a problem for Patel, who recently told the Daily News that the relationship between the two amounted to a “conflict of interest.”

“The sheer amount of money Congressman Nadler has taken from this special interest — particularly as it seeks to open a casino on the West Side — is staggering. When our community needed him to be an independent voice, Nadler has instead chosen to cash in at our expense,” Patel said. “This conflict of interest is exactly why I’m the only candidate in the race who won’t accept contributions from the corporate PACs corrupting our democracy.”

Patel was referring, in part, to a statement Nadler made during one of their recent debates.

When asked during a NY1 debate whether he’d support a casino in the Manhattan district, Nadler appeared open to the idea, saying that casinos “can generate huge revenue,” which is “very good,” but he then added that ultimately the decision would fall to the city and is one “that Congress has nothing to say about.”

Maloney and Patel both appeared to pan the idea, but they added that they’d have to see the specifics of a plan before making an informed pronouncement.

Maloney, who has also received donations from Related — less than $10,000 — over the years, recently called Nadler’s relationship with the company into question as well.

“Campaign contributors have never affected how I fight for my constituents,” Maloney told The News. “Public service is a public trust. Voters deserve an explanation if there is a link between Jerry Nadler’s large campaign contributions from Related Companies’ leaders and his openness to a gambling casino on the West Side.”

Nadler’s claim that Congress has nothing to say on such matters — and the suggestion that his opinion is therefore irrelevant on this particular subject — is odd given his stance on rezoning in Brooklyn.

Two years ago, he and lawmakers in both the federal and state governments publicly opposed the Industry City rezoning application in Sunset Park, writing together at the time that rezoning the waterfront there would “undermine Brooklyn’s industrial position” and “supercharge” gentrification.

When asked to address the concerns raised by Patel and Maloney, Nadler said he stood by his record “100%” and called his opponents’ efforts “cheap” and “flimsy.”

“New Yorkers have returned me to the House time and again not just because of my principled, progressive accomplishments — but because they know that my integrity is unimpeachable. I have never — not once in my career — made a decision predicated on anything but the best interests of my constituents,” he said. “With my campaign growing in momentum and recently earning the support of the New York Times and [Senate Majority] Leader Chuck Schumer, I understand why my opponents are growing increasingly dishonest — but desperation doesn’t deliver any truth to a manufactured, baseless attack.”

Aside from the contributions he’s received from Related over the years, there are other connections between Nadler and the firm that Patel finds dismaying.

Since at least 2019, Related has intermittently been a client of the high-powered public relations firm, Berlin Rosen. One of that firm’s principals Valerie Berlin is the former spouse of Nadler’s chief of staff Amy Rutkin. According to a Berlin Rosen spokesman, the couple’s relationship ended three years ago when they separated. They filed for divorce last year. The spokesman also noted that Berlin Rosen’s work with Related has had nothing to do with the firm’s casino push.

Nadler was also named in 2018 to the “elected advisory board” of the West Side

Community Fund, which was set up by Related and several other companies to bankroll local programs. According to a spokesman for his campaign, Nadler no longer serves on the board.

But how that fund has spent its money is not entirely clear. Based on a search of the state’s nonprofit database, it does not appear to be registered as a not-for-profit and does not appear in the state’s business database.

A press release Related put out in 2018 said that the fund would receive administrative support from the Citizens Committee for New York City.

Tax forms dated 2018 for that nonprofit show that the Citizens Committee issued several grants to local organizations, but it’s not clear whether they were given in conjunction with their work with the West Side Community Fund, or independently of it. In 2021, the nonprofit Hudson Guild took over the fund’s administrative duties, but a records search shows that its 2021 tax forms still have not been submitted.

Ken Jockers a spokesman for Hudson Guild, said some of the grants include money for a community cupboard to help those in need and an app designed to alert people to trip-and-fall hazards.

A Related spokesman declined to comment about plans for a casino in Manhattan, but did note that the city and state governments will ultimately determine its fate.

Nadler has been endorsed by the Working Families Party, a progressive point of pride in a district that spans both the West Side and East Side of Manhattan. But while the WFP has put in its lot with the veteran West Sider, it’s also been critical of Ross publicly.

In its support of Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou in her run in the crowded 10th Congressional District field, the WFP denounced one of Niou’s competitors, former federal prosecutor Dan Goldman, for taking money from Ross.

“Dan Goldman was the lead counsel on Trump’s first impeachment trial and an heir to a multi-billion dollar fortune. So why is he taking max donations from a Trump-supporting billionaire?” the party said in a tweet referring to Ross. “Because his constituency is the powerful, not the people of NY-10.”

The Working Families Party did not immediately respond when asked to weigh in on how Nadler has benefited from Ross.”

Source: Daily News