REBNY’s “Jobs for New York” PAC
The PAC created by REBNY (the Real Estate Board of New York),deceptively titled “Jobs for New York,” reveals the dangers presented byIEs, and some of the particular flaws in the current regulations:
REBNY is taking huge advantage of the LLC loophole
. Under NYS law,individuals can give up to $150,000 in annual aggregate to politicalcommittees, but corporations are supposed to be capped at $5,000.However, LLCs (the form for many real estate corporations) are treatedas individuals, and so can give up to $150,000. And an individual canfunnel money through multiple LLCs. This is NOT true under the CFB'srules for contributions to candidates (LLC contributions are prohibitedentirely), but we have not yet fixed this for IEs in local or state law.
The vast majority of the $6 million that they've raised comes from realestate corporations and LLCs
, most of it in large contributions of $50,000- $100,000. Many of these are from entities that "do business" with theCity (the donor limit to candidates is $2,750, but for people "doingbusiness" with the City, just $250 in order to reduce pay-to-play).
Even though Jobs for NY seeks to appear as a broader business andlabor PAC, all five of their board members are REBNY officers or leaders.
“ Pay-to-play” is a clear and present danger
: At the same time, well-connected developers (who are REBNY members) are underinvestigation by the Moreland Commission for large politicalcontributions to legislators and the governor just before the Legislaturepassed and the governor signed a law allowing 5 developments to gainspecial access to a “421-a” property tax break worth tens of millions of dollars. According to a recent analysis by Common Cause, “from 2011to July 2013, over 70% of REBNY contributions to State Senatecandidates went to districts outside of NYC in return for tax breaks andlax regulations.”
Because of the weakness in current IE disclosure rules, REBNY is able to hidewho’s behind their mailing to mislead voters:
None mention REBNY, or say anything real about who "Jobs for NewYork" is
. Their use of endorser logos and pictures makes it look like abroad, pro-good-jobs, pro-affordable-housing PAC with labor and electedofficial support, rather than an entity entirely controlled by REBNY, andfunded with large contributions from real estate LLCs.
They have mailed multiple negative mail-pieces
, which amount toanonymous hit-jobs on candidates who are participating in the campaignfinance system.
At least one Jobs for NY mailing engages in ethnically divisive practices
, letting voters in a largely Puerto Rican and African-Americandistrict (with a growing immigrant population) know that the candidate
"Moreland Monday" Analysis of REBNY Contributions Raises Serious Issues forCommission to Consider, August 5, 2013