Astorino meted out $79.2 million in contracts to 13 NYC-based firms during two-year existence of controversial Manhattan office, with each contributing to GOPer’s campaign war chest
Analysis by Latimer campaign shows 13 firms gave $213k to Astorino camp over the years, raising new pay-to-play questions for County Executive following announcement of office closure; Latest development comes week after Latimer, county lawmakers blast Astorino for not releasing details of office meetings
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – As Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino continues to face accusations of pay-to-play in connection with county Economic Development offices in Manhattan set to close after two years in operation and with limited benefit to county taxpayers, State Senator George Latimer is calling on his opponent to disclose his campaign’s relationships and meetings with thirteen NYC-based firms that have received nearly $80 million in county contracts during the office’s existence. An analysis by the Latimer camp shows that the firms have contributed over $200,000 to Astorino during his tenure as County Executive, further raising the spectre of pay-to-play for the controversial Republican lawmaker.
“This is a great deal for these companies and for Rob Astorino, but a terrible deal for Westchester taxpayers,” said George Latimer. “Since Astorino won’t disclose exactly what took place at 125 Park, we can’t know if these donors were meeting there with him or what was being discussed. This raises serious questions about the integrity of our County Executive that Rob Astorino should answer immediately. Westchester families have been Rob’d so many times that they should probably expect the worst.”
According to a review of Westchester County public records and state campaign finance reports, thirteen firms either headquartered in New York City or with a significant presence there received $79.2 million in taxpayer-funded contracts between 2015 and 2017. This coincides with the existence of the county’s Economic Development satellite office at 125 Park Avenue in Midtown, which Astorino opened to great fanfare but which the county cannot point to any specific benefit to taxpayers having come out of the exclusive commercial space. Last month, the county announced that it would be closing the space once its current lease expires.
These thirteen firms, which provide a range of services including engineering, architecture and legal, have at the same time been major donors to Astorino’s high-profile political campaigns over the years. In total, they contributed over $213,000 in contributions to Astorino’s war chest both before and after many of the contracts were issued to them by the county.
For Latimer, this raises serious ethical questions about Astorino’s use of the Manhattan space, which the State Senator and others contend provides the Republican with a base of operations for building his donor network ahead of a rumored 2018 rematch against Governor Andrew Cuomo. As a result, Latimer is calling on his opponent in the County Executive race to release all information pertaining to his relationship with the firms in question, as well as details on any meetings that the donors may have had with Astorino and county officials at the Park Avenue office.
“Rob Astorino in his past races for County Executive and Governor made a point of criticizing his opponents for the practices that he seems to have mastered,” Latimer said.
Latimer’s request comes one week after he and fellow county lawmakers held a press conference and rally outside county offices in White Plains to call for the full disclosure of all meetings at the office. Astorino’s office has stated in the press that no meetings logs were kept and no such details are available for the taxpayer-funded space.
According to the New York State Board of Elections and the Westchester County Government the list of donors includes notable contributors such as Arcadis, Harris Beach, HDR, LiRo, Tectonic, and Verde Electric Corporation.