Bill Rudin, the civic-minded real estate billionaire, admired in New York for his family’s remarkable success, apparent functionality, and steadfast devotion to New York civic life, made a startling declaration on Wednesday morning at the Harvard Club.
“I got a call the other day from an Albany politician,” said Mr. Rudin, the chairman of the Association for a Better New York, speaking in his capacity as the head of one of New York real estate’s most powerful families. “He called for money. I said to him, ‘Until you get your house in order’ – I think this is the first time I’ve done this – ‘until you have a coherent plan, I’m not giving you any money.’”
The occasion was a breakfast hosted by WX, New York Women Executives in Real Estate, an invite-only organization, 60 or so members of which showed up at 8 a.m. to hear Mr. Rudin regale them with stories of his family’s rise from Russian immigrants to New York barons, and the importance of civic engagement.
Mr. Rudin declined to reveal who, precisely, the unlucky politician was, but according to a source familiar with the conversation, it was Bronx and Westchester State Senator Jeffrey Klein.
“I did call him,” Mr. Klein told The Observer. “He did say that.”
“The only thing I can say is, I’ve been very active in Albany, even through the very horrible times we had in June and July,” Mr. Klein continued. “The governor signed my email notification bill for dangerous sexual predators.”
He also mentioned legislation that requires banks to maintain houses they foreclose on, and that requires homeowners be given more notification before they lose their homes to banks.
Mr. Klein says he’s long favored property tax caps, one of Mr. Rudin’s pet causes (some of his others include solving the state’s constant budget shortfalls and having government workers making a greater contribution to benefits).
While Mr. Klein said he had plenty of other contributors, losing Mr. Rudin’s money is not a miniscule matter. In just January and February of this year, Mr. Rudin and his family contributed $8,000 to New Yorkers for Klein, according to state records.
Mr. Rudin’s slap-down of the politician is not entirely unprecedented in the real estate world, which functions as something of an ATM for Albany politicians. A New York Times article from way back when (and buried so deep within Lexis-Nexis that it is, at this point, merely apocryphal) detailed how Douglas Durst decided to withhold contributions to Albany. It’s a policy he’s since rescinded.
But it’s a policy that just might inspire fear in the halls of Albany. After all, just imagine if Mr. Rudin’s idea caught on…