Adams and Hochul Rake in Real Estate Campaign Donations
Real estate is throwing its weight behind New York’s incumbent executives to fix the region’s housing crisis, despite a thin record of housing policy victories between them.
Mayor Eric Adams scooped up $1.3 million from donors in the past six months for his 2025 re-election campaign while Gov. Kathy Hochul hauled in $4.5 million so far this year, city and state campaign finance records show.
Both officials pulled in thousands of dollars in contributions from the city’s real estate elite.
Hochul tallied a $90,000 donation from a limited partnership for 345 Park Avenue, an office towner owned by Rudin Management. She also netted $18,000 apiece from RFR Holdings’ Aby Rosen; RXR CEO Scott Rechler and his wife, Deborah; Related Companies CEO Jeff Blau and his wife, Lisa; Red Apple CEO John Catsimatidis and his wife, Margo; SL Green (SLG) Realty Chairman and CEO Marc Holliday; and Steiner Studios’ chairman Doug Steiner. (Individual donations are capped at $9,000 for a primary and $9,000 for the general election.)
Adams also collected checks from SL Green executives Holliday and Steve Green, who each chipped in the maximum individual amount of $2,100 to his re-election campaign.
But much of the more than $50,000 in donations Adams received from real estate industry leaders was spread among outer borough owners, brokers and property managers. He received maxed contributions from Meridian Properties’ James Demetriades, Nu Rec Management’s Paul Gjonaj, Coral Realty’s Alex Forkosh, Ripco Real Estate’s Todd Cooper, and the Satwa Group’s Sandeep Jain.
Adams’s war chest has only been growing since his electoral victory two years ago. He has amassed $2.6 million and has more than $2 million in his campaign account, with another quarter of a million dollars in city matching funds. Adams’s campaign attorney Vito Pitta said the re-election effort expects to raise the maximum amount it is allowed to spend under the city’s campaign finance laws very soon.
“Polls show that the majority of New Yorkers support Mayor Adams — and they are demonstrating their support by contributing an historic amount to his campaign,” Pitta said. “New Yorkers see that Mayor Adams is lowering crime, increasing employment and moving our city in the right direction.”
The mayor’s fundraising prowess is a sign the real estate industry is comfortable with the direction he is leading the city — even if he has had little real estate results to back up his swagger — but the contributions are not necessarily a formal endorsement, multiple insiders said.
People give money to the mayor’s campaigns for many reasons. SL Green, for instance, is working with Caesars Entertainment and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation on a bid to turn part of a Times Square office tower into a casino, and hired Adams’s former chief of staff Frank Carone to craft its proposal. But the company is also the city’s largest commercial landlord with other issues on its plate, such as seeking to reduce climate fines that could pile up once the city’s strict building emissions laws go into effect. (An SL Green spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.)
Some donors may have business before the city and are trying to strengthen their ties to City Hall, as the owners of a construction safety business did when they allegedly concocted a straw donor scheme to steer tens of thousands of dollars in public matching funds to the mayor’s 2021 election effort, before they were indicted two years later.
But most donors have given to the mayor because they’re asked to attend a fundraiser and they want to network with administration officials whom they can reach when they need something, political insiders said.
“Some people definitely like the mayor’s access and programs for the real estate industry, some people have specific projects like casinos, and some people want to help him fight against the left,” said political consultant George Arzt, president of George Arzt Communications. “He’s been good for the real estate industry and he’s met with real estate members many times.”
So far, there’s been little talk among real estate leaders about drafting someone to mount a primary challenge against Adams, even though the mayor has railed against a “coordinated effort” among unnamed opponents to limit him to one term.
“If Eric gets primaried, he gets primaried from the left,” said one real estate insider, who donated to the mayor’s campaign. “He’s an incumbent mayor who is not explicitly hostile to the real estate industry. The mayor has put his back into getting controversial rezonings approved, but this phenomenon of support is the natural order of things.”
Hochul doesn’t have to worry about an opponent until 2026, but she barely survived a skirmish with former Congressman Lee Zeldin, who raked in donations from real estate entrepreneurs last year as the race tightened.
The governor has forcefully pushed the industry’s priorities in Albany after her re-election. This month, she signed an executive order enabling developers to access tax-exempt status while they finish their mixed-income projects in Gowanus after repeated attempts to revive an expired tax incentive failed, going around the state legislature after it picked apart her housing agenda.