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Politico sensationalizes real estate political donations

Politico pens a quick update on local political donations – is it clickbait or an attempt to smear real estate practitioners?


“Adams rakes in real estate donations,” a Politico headline reads this morning. Naturally, it piqued my attention, especially since people like me that live far away from New York City secretly enjoy watching the unfolding sh*tshow.

Erin Durkin and Anna Gronewold pen the “New York Playbook” and from all accounts, it appears that they really do have their finger on the pulse of their city, which is why I was surprised by the ignorant and salacious headline.

So let’s jump into it – what exactly is going on in the Big Apple?

Mayor Eric Adams appears to be fundraising for a 2025 re-election, zipping around the nation to fancy dinners with his collection plate. So far, he’s raked in over $850,000 in donations, according to Politico.

Given that Adams has only been the mayor for six months, that’s a wild amount of money to have in the coffers.

So far, we’re on the same page as Politico.

But here’s where it gets bumpy. They’ve “crunched the numbers and found that at least $156,000 in donations comes from people working in real estate, according to newly released fundraising disclosures.”

When I saw the headline, I imagined it was nearly all $850K, so $156K felt a little light.

The Politico duo reports, “Adams has embraced one of the city’s most lucrative and influential industries even as some of his lefty rivals swore off their cash, and development executives are placing their bets on helping the moderate Democratic mayor dominate any potential challengers.”

This part is important, because it frames the context of this specific political race, and is likely the fuel behind Politico’s biased approach to the topic.

They point out specific contributors and cite that donors are “betting on Adams’ brand of pro-development politics.” The insinuation is that the real estate industry buys politicians.

First, it is noteworthy that NYC is the proverbial wild west, operating without organization through an MLS. They’re in their own universe, so we should at least acknowledge that.

But it is more noteworthy that real estate developers and real estate practitioners are two wholly different entities, and lumping them and their political donations together is misleading to Politico readers.

Since the dawn of political time, individual donors from every business sector have contributed to mayoral races, gubernatorial races, and so forth, regardless of who is in the seat, regardless of party, and regardless of personal preference.

So let’s do some math: If every one of the 60,000 members of the New York State Association of Realtors (NYSAR) contributed the financial equivalent of half a gallon of gas (at what AAA says is today’s NY average), you would hit the $156,000.

Calling out an 18% portion of political donations from one broad sector is ludicrous and is either clickbait, prognosticating without any empirical evidence that the donations are targeted for any specific reason, or an attempt to smear the real estate industry.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.


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