ALBANY — A top development company donated $100,000 to Gov. Cuomo just days before he signed a bill that quietly showered the firm with lucrative tax breaks.
Two corporations tied to Extell Development each contributed $50,000 to Cuomo’s campaign, which recorded the checks on Jan. 28 — the same day the Assembly passed a housing bill that contained tax breaks for five developers, including Extell, records show.
Cuomo signed the legislation two days later.
The twin $50,000 donations were made by Elco Master LLC and 134 W 58 LLC. Each listed the same Louisville, Ky., address of Extell Financial Services, which is part of Extell Development. It was the first time either company contributed to Cuomo, state records show.
Gary Barnett, president of Extell Development Co., gave $100,000 to a state Democratic Party account used by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — three weeks after a bill giving Extell and other developers hefty tax breaks became law.
And less than three weeks after the bill became law, Extell President Gary Barnett donated $100,000 to a state Democratic Party account that Cuomo was tapping to finance ads pushing his agenda. Records dating to 1999 show it was the only time he gave to the state party.
The Daily News first disclosed the tax breaks for the five developers in June. At the time, the sponsors couldn’t say who picked the projects for special treatment.
The benefit for Extell’s 57th St. luxury apartment tower is projected to cost the city $35 million over 10 years.
Extell and the other four companies who benefited from the legislation have been subpoenaed by a special commission created by Cuomo to investigate corruption in state government. The commission is looking at circumstances surrounding the bill’s passage.
Jaron Benjamin, president of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, called the timing of the Extell donations troubling.
A Cuomo aide called it “beyond reckless” to suggest the governor is influenced by donations. Melissa DeRosa said the Extell checks were written Jan. 14 for a fund-raiser held a week earlier that yielded more than $3 million.
“To suggest any connection beyond that is an irresponsible distortion of the facts,” said DeRosa, who maintained the bill was supported by the Legislature and the city.
Extell wouldn’t comment on the specific donations. The company said it supports pro-economic candidates and has given to Cuomo and the state Democratic Party in the past. “At no time has there ever been any kind of quid pro quo for our contributions,” an Extell rep said.