Giuliani connection helps Lhota's fundraising

New York City GOP mayoral candidate Joe Lhota New York City GOP mayoral candidate Joe Lhota waits moments before his first television debate with other GOP candidates on a NY1 set. (July 10, 2013) Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

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Dan Janison Melville. N.Y. Tuesday January 26, 2010. Daniel Janison,

Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997, initially as a staff writer for the New ...

For reasons both predictable and unusual, New York City's dominant Democrats are absorbing most of the attention this election season. In doing so, they are overshadowing a spirited three-candidate mayoral primary scrum for the Republican line in which Joseph Lhota leads in most polls so far.

But if there is a unique document in the fundraising filings, updated this week, it belongs to Lhota -- whose support grows most of all from his role as top deputy to ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Lhota's camp raised more than $500,000 in the last two months -- which is a bit more than half of what his independently wealthy, high-spending GOP rival John Catsimatidis put into his own war chest in the same reporting period.

"There's certainly support from people who worked in the administration, who know Joe and what he'll be able to accomplish," campaign spokeswoman Jessica Proud said Tuesday. She added that the campaign in the latest fundraising cycle focused on a heavy push for smaller donations, "from a cross-section of voters."

Still, the Team Rudy imprint is indelible. Since January, contributors include at least four other deputy mayors from the Giuliani years -- Peter Powers, Randy Mastro (who's also bundled funds for Democrat Bill Thompson), Robert Harding and John Dyson -- in addition to supporter Giuliani himself.

Among more than 30 donors who held key posts in Giuliani's eight years at City Hall were former Finance Commissioner Alfred Cerullo, former budget director Abraham Lackman, former Transportation Commissioner Chris Lynn and ex-corporation counsel Michael Hess. Former chief of staff Anthony Carbonetti, who managed the 2008 Giuliani for President effort, has been active in the Lhota campaign as is longtime Giuliani aide Jake Menges, both of whom contributed.

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"Money-wise, it's Rudy II," said one "alumnus" contributor.

Many of the bigger-name donors kicked in $4,950 -- the maximum allowed for individuals under the city's campaign-finance regulations. Others gave the $400 maximum for those doing business with the city. Only the first $175 of a contribution can be matched by public funds.

Not surprisingly, individuals outside government who were Giuliani campaign backers now help Lhota. Among them: Mitchell B. Modell, CEO of Modell's Sporting Goods. Also, members of the Dolan family who are affiliated with the family-owned company, Cablevision. Lhota once worked at Cablevision. Joseph Spitzer, Brooklyn real estate executive and well-known Giuliani supporter, is another example.

Not all the history goes back that far. Lhota was active in Giuliani's 2008 presidential campaign, in which a member of his judicial advisory panel was former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who contributed. But the shared links with Giuliani are clear. Investment banker David Malpass, whom the ex-mayor supported for U.S. Senate in 2010, contributed, as did Raoul Felder, who was Giuliani's lawyer in a public divorce battle.

Also, Richard A. Grasso, former New York Stock Exchange chairman, and his financial world ally and fellow Giulianibacker, financier Kenneth Langone, are backing Lhota. Both Grasso and Langone were, famously, targets and sworn enemies of Eliot Spitzer during the latter's time as a Wall Street-busting state attorney general. With Democrat Spitzer back on the scene, running for city comptroller, who knows? Old wars could soon find a new local arena regardless of who becomes mayor.

The Dolan family owns Cablevision, Newsday's

parent company.

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