Campaigns & Elections
Who are Kathy Hochul’s big donors?
The governor reported a stunning $22 million in campaign donations in five months.
New York has never seen a campaign finance filing quite like Gov. Kathy Hochul’s. She started fundraising in August, days after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he would resign, and she never stopped, bringing in more than $21.6 million in a five month period.
Hochul’s campaign touted the haul as “the largest contribution total for any single filing period in New York history” in a press release Tuesday that noted she nearly doubled the $12.8 million raised in 2002 by then-Gov. George Pataki.
The windfall further solidifies her position as the front-runner in the 2022 Democratic primary for governor, with her biggest competitors, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi, raising $221,996 and $3.4 million respectively according to the public filings.
Among the biggest donors were developers from Buffalo to Manhattan, entertainment execs, and celebrities. Also pouring cash into Hochul’s campaign were hundreds of interest groups and labor unions. The Times Union has reported that Hochul has followed in Cuomo’s footsteps, outsourcing much of her fundraising operation to lobbying firms representing private clients.
The industry was especially generous, with one of the heftiest donations coming from New York City commercial landlords, the Rudin family, which gave more than $226,000 between their 845 Third L.P. corporation and five individuals, including $35,420 from Eric C. Rudin, the president of Rudin Management Co.
The Haugland family, which owns the Melville-based Haugland Energy Group, gave more than $209,000 between three family members. The company was recently awarded a contract on the state’s first offshore wind farm, South Fork, and counts multiple public agencies and energy providers among its clients, including Con Edison and the MTA.
Other big real estate contributions include:
- Related Companies CEO Jeff Blau and his wife Lisa Blau gave a combined $139,400. Related’s chair and founder Stephen Ross gave $69,700.
- Former Empire State Development CEO Howard Zemsky and wife Leslie Zemsky, who are big in Buffalo real estate with Larkin Development Group, gave a combined $100,000.
- Silverstein Properties Chair Larry Silverstein and his wife Klara Silverstein donated a combined $139,400.
Big names from sports and TV to fashion and dining also appeared on Hochul’s latest filing. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld donated $50,000. Steve Cohen, the hedge fund manager who owns the New York Mets, and his wife Alexandra Cohen, gave a combined $136,700. Other notables include:
- Fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg, and her husband, former Twentieth Century Fox CEO Barry Diller, gave a combined $75,000, plus a $9,077 in-kind donation.
- Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin, the entrepreneurs who co-own the New York Islanders, donated $50,000 each.
Tech execs were among the major donors, with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt giving $69,700 each.
Special interest groups
Political action committees and labor unions were also represented, including:
- Two PACs associated with the Hotel Trades Council gave a total of $147,400 (and were refunded $8,000 because they surpassed the contribution limit, to get them to $139,400.)
- LAWPAC, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association’s political action committee: $68,700
- Building Industry Electrical Contractors PAC: $50,000
- Building for New Yorkers PAC: $50,000
- International Association of Firefighters’ FIREPAC: $50,000
- Hochul also brought in at least $66,000 from political action committees affiliated with law enforcement, including $25,000 alone from NYSCOPBA, which represents correctional officers in state prisons.
Thirty-two individual donors gave the governor’s campaign, Friends for Kathy Hochul, the legal limit of $69,700, and at least 95 gave $47,100 or more. State law sets the contribution limit this year at $22,600 for statewide Democratic primaries and $47,100 for the general election, but some donors contributed it all in one lump sum.
More than 86% of donors were from New York state, according to the press release, which noted Hochul received contributions from donors in all 62 counties. Over half of the contributions were for $250 or less, the campaign said.
A few out-of-state donors were nevertheless giving close to home. Hochul’s father, John P. Courtney, donated $67,500 from an address in Florida. And the governor's brother Dennis Courtney and his wife Monica, who live in Maryland, gave a combined $5,000.
Hochul started the filing period with $1,756,884 in her campaign coffers and spent $2,346,363, leaving her with $21.3 million in total cash on hand.
When Hochul’s campaign initially filed a report late Tuesday, it credited 1,944 separate donations totaling $9.4 million to a single individual: Emma DeVito. The campaign called it “a bit of a glitch” and noted other campaigns were having issues too. The report was fixed by Wednesday morning, with the donations properly attributed. The corrected report showed that DeVito donated $1,000 on Oct. 18, $750 on Dec. 3 and another $750 on Dec. 5. The campaign refunded her $750 on Dec. 6. DeVito, the president and CEO of VillageCare, didn’t respond to a request for comment on what it was like to briefly be considered the biggest political donor in the state.
Additional reporting by Rebecca C. Lewis, Holly Pretsky and Zach Williams
NEXT STORY: What’s next for Bill de Blasio?