NEW YORK CITY — Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has campaigned for mayor as a defender of workers’ and patient’s rights — but some of the donors de Blasio has taken thousands of dollars from fall far short of his high standards.
According to New York City campaign finance filings, de Blasio, who won the backing of healthcare workers union 1199 SEIU and who has a reputation as the defender of renters against city landlords, some of whom have made his “Worst Landlords” list, accepted $4,500 in donations from Neil Rubler — the most of any candidate running for office this year.
Rubler is the founder and CEO of Vantage Properties. In 2010, then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo threatened to sue Vantage for harassing tenants in Queens and Manhattan in an attempt to get them to move out so the properties could be rented at higher rates.
Vantage ultimately settled the lawsuit, agreeing to pay $1 million in penalties, three-quarters of which was directed toward tenants harassed by the company. Cuomo said in a statement at the time that the agreement “sends a strong message that my office will continue to protect tenants and bring unscrupulous landlords to justice.”
A spokesman for Vantage property declined to comment.
De Blasio has also positioned himself as champion of medical patients and those that serve them. He was recently arrested protesting the closure of Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, and has continued to fight to keep its doors open.
However, a pair of his donors — Judith and Alfred Schonberger — have a subpar record when it comes to the people de Blasio says he’s looking to help.
The couple has donated $2,900 to de Blasio’s mayoral campaign. But in 2003 they were forced to pay $200,000 after they lost a wrongful death suit over a choking at one of their senior living centers.
That same year the couple was also forced to pay $75,000 in back wages to dozens of employees at a Bronx facility after the Department of Labor filed a lawsuit.
A call to the Schonberger’s office for comment was not returned.
The de Blasio campaign declined to comment on either donation.