By Rich Bockmann
Queens’ most notorious developer of 2013 made a sizable political contribution to the borough’s most ambitious, federally indicted politician of the year.
About a month after he raised the indignation of aerosol art lovers everywhere by whitewashing the graffiti institution 5Pointz in Long Island City, owner/developer Jerry Wolkoff made a $10,000 donation in December to the re-election campaign of state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans). Smith is facing federal charges accusing him of trying to bribe Republican leaders to endorse him in a long-shot bid for mayor.
“I see Malcolm. I speak to him quite often. I believe in the guy,” Wolkoff said. “I know he might have a tough road ahead of him in this campaign, but I believe he’s good.”
Wolkoff, who lives in a 5,700-square-foot abode on Quantuck Bay in the tony village of Quogue in Southampton, L.I., regularly cuts checks to Suffolk County politicians on both sides of the aisle.
In Queens, he has contributed to former city Councilman Eric Gioia’s (D-Long Island City) campaign and in 2012 he donated $3,500 to Smith as he ran unopposed for a seventh term in the state Senate.
Wolkoff said he believes Smith to be innocent and would have voted for him for mayor because he thinks the southeast Queens Democrat is a business-minded lawmaker who can spur job growth.
“I knew when I gave it to him that I’m going to be criticized, but if I believe in somebody, I’m going to back them,” he said.
Smith, a former real estate developer, pleaded not guilty in April after he was indicted on three federal counts of bribery, fraud and extortion for his alleged role in a scheme to steer state transportation funds to a Spring Valley development in exchange for Republican Party backing for his run for mayor.
Aside from Wolkoff’s $10,000 contribution, the only other donation in the most recent filing period since July was a $7,500 check cut by longtime backer David Mack, the state’s most recent campaign finance filing show.
Mack is a former Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Port Authority board member who resigned in 2009 under political pressure from then-state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and then-Gov. George Pataki after he failed to cooperate with an investigation into the State Police.
A self-financed $3,000 loan brought Smith’s war chest to a total of just over $23,000 in the most recent filings.
Smith faces potential challenges later this year from Munir Avery, a Democratic election lawyer from Hillcrest, and Clyde Vanel, an intellectual property attorney from Cambria Heights who has gained political steam in his past several runs at elected office.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.