Who is the Committee to Save New York?

In a prelude to the looming budget battle, a shadowy group going by the name of the “Committee to Save New York” has started coordinating with the Cuomo administration to promote the dawning of a new era of “fiscal sanity” in New York State. The group has amassed a $10 million war chest to run ads in support of a fiscal reform agenda heavy on budget cuts. One ad has already gone on the air touting Cuomo’s approach to the state’s budget problems.

Who, exactly, is behind the Committee to Save New York? To find out, LittleSis’s Cuomo Watch research group will be investigating over the course of the next month. The Committee has refused to disclose its donor list, but it has released its board list, and we have already added that info to the Committee’s page on LittleSis. We will be using that and other public record information to shed light on who, exactly, is behind these efforts, and what their true agendas and interests are.

It is already clear that one of the main forces behind the Committee is the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), an industry association comprised of wealthy real estate and financial interests. REBNY’s president, Steven Spinola, and chair, Mary Ann Tighe, are on the board of the Committee, and Committee co-chair Rob Speyer is on REBNY’s executive committee. Speyer’s real estate firm, Tishman Speyer, has reportedly donated $1 million to the Committee, and other members of REBNY’s board have also donated to the Committee, including chair emeritus Stephen Ross (a billionaire) and the Durst Organization (Douglas Durst is on REBNY’s board).

REBNY’s board boasts many super-wealthy real estate investors and bankers, including billionaires Richard LeFrakStephen RossLeonard SternSheldon Solow, and Jerry Speyer. Large real estate management firms like CB Richard Ellis, conglomerates such as Vornado Realty Trust, law firms such as Weil Gotshal Manges, and financial firms such as Barclays gain a voice in government through REBNY.

REBNY’s annual reports do not exactly paint a picture of an organization intent on tackling the state’s budget problems or easing the tax burden of the middle class. The reports detail a range of lobbying activities intended to lower the tax burden of big business and the super-rich, including advocating for equal income tax rates for billionaires and bus drivers, a continued “carried interest” tax break for hedge funds and real estate investment firms, and a continued tax abatement for condo owners in Manhattan. “Fiscal discipline,” in REBNY’s world, appears to mean helping wealthy, big business interests avoid paying taxes.

What does the Committee actually stand for?
What does the Committee actually stand for?

Judging from press reports, REBNY has a direct line to Cuomo’s office, but that has come at a high price: 26 of the organization’s board members donated $10,000 or more to his gubernatorial campaign, an incredible level of support from one organization.

There is much more research to be done on REBNY and other groups associated with the Committee. Who are they? What do they lobby for in Albany? What aspects of the budget and tax code benefit them? Do they pay their taxes?

Is this the Committee to Save New York, or the Committee to Scam New York? Join the research group to help us find out.

Note: For analysts who are more interested in the shadowy ways of Washington, Sunlight Foundation is leading an exciting investigation of Super PACs, the outside groups made possible by Citizens United that spent hundreds of millions of dollars influencing last year’s election. Go here to sign up for the research group and research a few Super PACs: where are they located? Who are their main officers? Do they have a website? Help us find out.

23 thoughts on “Who is the Committee to Save New York?”

  1. They aren’t disclosing their funding sources, though Koch and his wife Julia have given Cuomo himself $87,000…a pretty tidy sum. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have contributed to CSNY, but nonprofits don’t have to disclose funders.

  2. I am disgusted that my 20 yr old daughter just got a job with these people at Committee to Save NY. They dropped her off in the middle of a “less than desirable” neighborhood with a small group all several blocks from one another. She was assigned a partner who never answered his phone, didn’t reply to her texts and didn’t show up within 30 minutes as planned. What kind of practice is this? She expressed she felt unsafe. The shuttle driver told her he was busy and couldn’t pick her up! Busy doing what if his job is to play driver to this group!!!! He came a long while later after she threatened to call the police. I am very angry that they want her to promote politics, which she is great at, but are not taking safety issues seriously!!! Today is her second and last day! Her safety is important to ME.

  3. My daughter is an international studies major hired by this committee to save new york on a part time basis during her college semester. She was extremely disillusioned by the lack of organization, the lack of safety, and the secretive nature of the canvassing procedure. Her safety was also at stake on several days of working, and she was left stranded in neighborhoods with transportation not arriving until hours later. It is irresponsible and unconscionable to take young and enthusiastic college students and use them like this. What a welcome to the world of politics in New :York.

  4. Why is being present in “less desirable” neighborhoods a safety issue? The people that live there deal with it every day.

    I’d be very curious to know what neighborhood(s) exactly you’re kids found so unsafe. Given the very low crime rate in NYC, it’s hard to read this as anything other than racial…

  5. Does anyone seem to recall when Andrew Cuomo’s old man was governer of New York organized crime was ignored and labor corruption was uncontrolable. I must admit the at least some of what I say is coming from where the sun don’t shine but let’s look very closely at where this “Leader” encourages a bizarre amount of taxpayer’s money to go. By the way Mario Cuomo’s father was “given” a grocery store in New York so this is starting to really stink like the same old crap that got us into the f#&king mess.

  6. Scumbag millionaires trying to destroy unions and not pay their fair share of taxes. Big surprise, real estate scum and bankers. Your greed knows no end. Vote Democratic and support the middle class, and Fuc* the NY Post

  7. What prompted my inquiry into who’s running the ambitiously-titled organization, The Committee To Save New York, is the obvious level of superbucks being spent in television ads to promote Governor Cuomo’s agenda. The ads permeate, seemingly on every show, on every major network, 24/7 (or close.) We’re talking millions here.
    If the bills are being paid by private, wealthy investors – who can spend their money any way they want – then my only question is: Are the puppeteers already on the job in Albany pulling the strings in the Governor’s office and the offices of our esteemed legislators?

  8. Anyone who knows anything about Steven Spinola, President of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), knows that he is a union-buster. In order to increase the profits for the developers that his organization represents, he wants the city to relax the rules for obtaining a license to operate a crane in New York City so contractors can bring in inexperienced, non-union crane operators who will work for less money than union crane operators. This may save the developers money, but it will drastically increase the likelihood of future crane accidents.

    Those recent accidents in Manhattan, which resulted in the deaths of Wayne Bliedner and Donald Leo, two members of IUOE Local 14, were caused by faulty equipment/rigging, not by operator error. Spinola and his fellow union-busters knows this, but instead of questioning the business practices of the owner of those cranes, they decided to use these accidents as subterfuge to push for the weakening of the requirements to obtain a NYC Department of Buildings Hoist Machine Operator license, which will greatly weaken the crane operator’s union by causing an influx of inexperienced non-union crane operators from out of state. REBNY doesn’t care about the extraordinary skill of union crane operators and Local 14’s exemplary safety record. All they care about is the additional money they will make if they successfully bust the crane operator’s union.

  9. Committe to Save New York? Who do they think they are fooling? This is all about Bloomberg and his billionaire friends vision of what NY should be- a playground for the rich at the expense of the middle class- because these rich a#*holes think that they, “know better”. My wife and me are sick of having to pay the frieght with property tax, water bill, toll and fee increases. We are being taxed out of the city we have lived in all of our lives! The elite have taken over Manhattan and want the ,”other half” who live in the other boroughs to pay! Cuomo is a disgrace and now he plays the stooge to NY’s billionare elite while he steps on us. WATCH OUT!- His ego trip could be worse than Bloomberg’s and Guiliani”s combined.

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