By Sarina Trangle
Although the next round of city elections is more than three years away, the delay has not stopped those with special interests from contributing to the tens of thousands of dollars amassed in Queens elected officials’ campaign coffers.
An executive behind the massive Astoria Cove housing bid in Hallets Point donated $1,000 to Borough President Melinda Katz’s campaign. And telecommunications companies concerned about the city’s Wi-Fi contract strategy have kicked $1,250 into the campaign account of Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), chairman of the Zoning and Franchises Committee, who also sits on the Technology Committee.
Once campaign spending is factored in, Katz has $78,109 on hand for a re-election bid, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) $51,541, Weprin $38,019, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) $16,132, Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) $12,906 and Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) $14,000.
Van Bramer’s and Crowley’s campaign committees have not yet declared that the politicians are running for re-election, but those close to their campaigns confirmed both are seeking a third term in City Hall.
Katz’s re-election campaign account has profited from employees at the lobbying firm Greenberg Traurig LLP, where she previously worked, and a political action committee it finances that have collectively contributed $3,810.
Others who donated generously to the borough president’s bid include Eugen Gluck, chairman of the E. Gluck watch company moving to Little Neck, who gave $2,000; leaders of the F&T Group behind the Flushing Commons development, who collectively gave $1,320; executives of the TF Cornerstone firm selected to construct the middle-income Hunter’s Point South housing complex, who collectively gave $1,000; and an Alma Realty developer managing the Astoria Cove residences proposed in Hallets Point, who gave $1,000.
As borough president, Katz is charged with issuing recommendations on proposed zoning and land use changes.
Katz spokesman Nathan Smith said her fund-raising adhered to all regulations.
“Melinda believes that we have one of the premier campaign finance systems in the world. She not only follows the letter but also the spirit of the law. Her filing reflects her commitment to these core beliefs,” Smith wrote in an e-mail.
Weprin, who criticized the city’s plan to contract with one company for the transformation of thousands of pay phones into Wi-Fi hubs, has collected in his 2017 war chest $750 from employees of Titan Outdoor LLC, a telecommunications company that has lobbied the city, and $500 from the CEO of Telebeam Communications, which joined Weprin in railing against the plan as engendering a monopoly in a press release.
Weprin did not return requests for comment.
The executive director of the New York Hospitality Alliance has been bundling donations for Weprin, amassing $1,250 from restaurateurs and developers for the legislator, who sits on the Land Use and Economic Development committees.
Weprin returned a $1,375 contribution from Steel Equities, a company involved with the remodeling of a Little Neck warehouse neighbors have spurned, but he kept a $1,375 donation from an executive of E. Gluck, which is moving onto the site.
Crowley’s campaign benefited from several construction firms and labor organizations, with a man from Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers bundling $750 for her planned 2017 run. She sits on the Civil Service and Labor Committee.
“She is also a proud card carrying member of the Building Trades, so her base of support should be of no surprise,” Crowley spokesman Javier Lacayo wrote in an e-mail.
Many of the top individual investors in Ferreras’ campaign hail from Brooklyn, including Brooklyn Nets investor and Russian-American Ahron Hersh. Ferreras chairs the Council’s Committee on Finance and is a member of its Consumer Affairs and Economic Development committees.
The largest donations funneled into Vallone’s campaign were smaller than those pocketed by his colleagues, with his top backer, a Columbia University director, pitching in $1,750.
Van Bramer’s committee contains $14,000 transferred from the remains of his 2013 war chest.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.