De Blasio’s Biggest ‘Bundlers’ Got Special Political Treatment
Mayor de Blasio has long claimed he didn’t dole out favors to his top donors — but financial records from his 2013 campaign show otherwise.
Nearly two-thirds of the “bundlers” who raised more than $1.5 million to help put de Blasio in office later got special treatment from City Hall, a Post analysis shows.
The list includes 23 big-bucks donors who got appointed to municipal boards and committees, eight developers who benefited from government actions or policy changes, six political allies put on the city payroll and five business owners who scored lucrative contracts.
In all, 67 of de Blasio’s 102 bundlers reaped rewards after pouring cash into his political war chest or raising money for his transition effort and inauguration ceremonies, records show.
Meanwhile, the 35 who don’t appear to have gotten official favors mostly contributed $10,000 or less each — and include at least five people who have had run-ins with the law.
In March, de Blasio was spared criminal charges following lengthy federal and state investigations into his fund-raising efforts, although Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said some of the mayor’s actions appeared to violate “the intent and spirit” of the law.
Nearly a year ago, the mayor pledged to identify the “stunning numbers of donors and supporters” who got nothing for their money, but he never produced any names.
And last month, the mayor walked back that promise and instead said he would “give examples,” possibly “in the form of an op-ed” column that has yet to appear in print.
De Blasio faces largely token opposition for the Democratic nomination for re-election in November and a Republican field that includes first-time candidate Paul Massey and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (SI).
Four of de Blasio’s top 10 bundlers in 2013 were lobbyists or advocates for the taxi industry, records show.
The top donor, taxi-industry lobbyist Michael Woloz, showered de Blasio with $236,415 — then got private meetings with the mayor and a City Hall plan to limit the expansion of Uber and other app-based, ride-hailing companies.
De Blasio abandoned the plan in January 2016, but earlier this year the Taxi and Limousine Commission imposed a regulation forcing the businesses to turn over trip data so the city can track tired drivers.
The husband of the mayor’s No. 2 bundler, Broadway Stages CEO Gina Argento, claimed in February that she was pressured into donating, saying she feared her film and TV production company would be denied permits to film on city streets. De Blasio has denied the accusation.
De Blasio’s cousin, John Wilhelm, was his No. 3 bundler, and the UNITE HERE hotel-workers union he co-founded benefited from the mayor’s crackdown on illegal apartment rentals through Airbnb.
The No. 4 bundler, lawyer Jay Eisenhofer, was appointed to several committees controlled by the mayor, as was bundler and lawyer Richard Emery, who was made chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
Emery quit that post last year, a day after the CCRB’s executive director filed a suit alleging that Emery called her and a colleague “pussies.” Emery had made more than $140,000 over two years on the part-time job.
Charles Hocking, de Blasio’s No. 7 bundler, has seen his engineering consulting firm, Hazen and Sawyer, score more than $146 million in city contracts since the mayor took office.
The No. 10 bundler, Anthony Bonomo, got a private meeting with de Blasio and was appointed to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, a nonprofit that last year doled out more than $27 million raised from major corporations and charitable foundations.
Bonomo, who was a star government witness against corrupt former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, was largely sidelined as CEO of Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers, the state’s second-largest malpractice insurer, according to a January report by the Albany Times Union.
Dick Dadey, head of the watchdog group Citizens Union, said that while it wasn’t against the law for de Blasio to assist his bundlers and other supporters — unless he engaged in an illegal quid pro quo — “they shouldn’t have any more access to him than the average New Yorker.”
“This is the unfortunate underbelly of our political system in New York,” Dadey said.
De Blasio’s campaign committee referred questions to the mayor’s office, which did not return messages.
Additional reporting by Bruce Golding