Monday, February 11, 2008

State Assembly Coffers Smell a Ratner

It turns out that Forest City Ratner is not going to stay out of politics after all. An excellent exposé by the Atlantic Yards Report today demonstrates that developer Bruce Ratner's company has violated its pledge not to influence our elected officials with campaign contributions.

Taking advantage of a campaign finance law loophole, Forest City Ratner lined the pockets of the Democratic Campaign Assembly Committee last month with a hefty $58,240 donation. The Atlantic Yards Report speculates (!) that the sum "may be payback to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver", whose support was critical to the approval of Ratner's master plan to build a host of high-rises downtown and an arena to host his NBA team, the current New Jersey Nets.

Ratner's most recent largesse may not be the first time he's skirted his promise not to buy the favor of Brooklyn's leaders. A September 2006 article in the Atlantic Yards Report pointed out that the developer's brother, lawyer Michael Ratner, and his brother's wife, Karen Ranucci both made campaign contributions to local politicians using Forest City Ratner's Brooklyn building as their return address. Among the beneficiaries of these (probably coincidental) donations were Congressman Edolphus Towns, who has been a proponent of the project, and State Senator Martin Malavé-Dilan, also an advocate of the Atlantic Yards.

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