Espada, Other Dems Well Paid for Blocking Rent-Law Reform

Real-estate money accounts for nearly half of state Sen. Pedro Espada’s campaign funds, according to state Board of Elections figures analyzed by the Bronx News Network.

According to the network’s analysis of contribution reports the board posted online, Espada raised about $485,000 between January 2009 and Sept. 3. Almost $200,000 of that came from “groups or individuals associated with building management and real estate.” 

In August, landlord contributions accounted for more than three-fourths of the $49,900 Espada reported. Stellar Management, notorious for its efforts to deregulate Mitchell-Lama developments, gave $25,000, from seven different subsidiaries. Housing New York PAC, a money-channeling group run by the Community Housing Improvement Program, a landlord trade association and lobby, chipped in $5,000. 

Landlord groups have continued to give money to Senate Republicans, but they’ve also been donating to Democrats, in the belief that it will give them a strong incentive to be “reasonable” and not bite the hands that fund them. Stellar Management owner Laurence Gluck contributed $10,000 to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee at a fundraiser held by the Real Estate Board of New York in early July. That event raised more than $125,000 for Senate Democrats, with checks for $10,000 also coming from REBNY chair Mary Ann Tighe and Stuy-Town owner Tishman Speyer.

Espada, chair of the Senate’s Housing Committee, almost single-handedly blocked a vote on repealing vacancy decontrol last year. He also voted against a bill to restrict rent increases for apartment renovations, and last winter proposed a scheme to finance a supposed “rent freeze” by letting landlords buy the right to deregulate apartments that had received city tax breaks.

“Pedro is a much more moderate-conservative Democrat, and if he hadn’t been there, I think it’s clear that there would have been more bad legislation enacted,” Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, told the Wall Street Journal. “He may be radioactive in the PR level, but he is who he is, and he’s been a guy who supports you more often than anyone else does. He was much more receptive on some issues than other New York City Dems.”

Other Democrats receiving real-estate retainers include Craig Johnson of Long Island and Carl Kruger of Brooklyn, who b  oth voted against the two tenant protection bills that reached the Senate floor last month, and Jeffrey Klein of th  e Bronx and Westchester.