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Real estate donors contribute 17% to Comrie’s boro prez race

TimesLedger Newspapers

City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), chairman of the Council’s powerful Land Use Committee, has drawn some interest from real estate industry donors in his campaign for borough president.

Comrie’s financial disclosure for the race was filed nine days late with the City Campaign Finance Board, due to what the councilman said was a technical difficulty. The results now show he received about 17 percent of his donations from the real estate sector, the second-highest percentage of candidates in the race.The borough president has an advisory role in zoning, variance and land use applications in the borough.

Comrie is facing off against a Democratic field that includes state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), Director of Community Boards Barry Grodenchik, former Councilwoman Melinda Katz, Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), all who hope to take the spot of Borough President Helen Marshall.

The borough president

Comrie has raked in a total of $103,846 since early 2010, although he raised more than $30,000 since his official campaign announcement Jan. 6.

TimesLedger Newspapers recently published an analysis of the other candidates, which found that real estate interests clearly favored Katz, who stepped down as a lobbyist for Greenberg Traurig in November and was formerly the chairwoman of the Council’s Committee on Land Use. About 40 percent of her donations came from real estate firms, developers, architects and real estate lawyers.

Comrie received some donations from heads of citywide developers like the Durst Organization, where four people gave Comrie a total of $2,000. The only other Queens borough president candidate members of the Durst Organization donated to was Katz.

Two developers looking to expand in Flushing Meadows Corona Park chipped into Comrie’s war chest. The owners of the New York Mets want to build a 1.4 million-square-foot mall near Citi Field, and the United States Tennis Association is hoping to expand its Flushing digs. David Howard, executive vice president of the Mets; Jeff and Richard Wilpon, owners of the Mets and Sterling Equities; and Gordon Smith, executive director of USTA, gave Comrie a total of $1,140, according to the board.

Higher-ups from other developers, including Muss Development and Vornado Realty Trust, also gave Comrie cash.

Comrie also received donations from Queens attorneys who handle land use cases that go through the borough president’s office, including Eric Palatnik and Sheldon Lobel.

One of Comrie’s competitors, Vallone, received about 14 percent of his donations from real estate interests, but his total of $23,000 was more than Comrie’s roughly $19,000.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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