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Big donor's political contributions slow in wake of probes

ALBANY -- The Glenwood Management campaign donation spigot has been turned off.

For years, the Long Island-based luxury apartment developer has been one of the most generous contributors to New York politicians, showering Republicans and Democrats with at least $13.4 million in contributions since 1999.

But that has changed dramatically since the New Hyde Park company was linked to two federal investigations involving two of the biggest figures in recent state political history.

In the past six months, Glenwood; its longtime leader, Leonard Litwin; and affiliated companies contributed just $8,200 to just two political candidates, a review of state Board of Elections records showed. They gave $58,256 to political committees.

That's a stark difference from a year earlier, when, in the first six months of 2014, Litwin's holdings contributed more than $700,000 to candidates and political committees.

"At first blush, this is no surprise. There's nothing like federal scrutiny to make people think twice about their behavior," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group, which monitors campaign contributions.

Glenwood officials didn't return a call seeking comment.

Earlier this year, the company was involved in probes of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre). Both have said they are not guilty.

Federal prosecutors alleged in an indictment that Silver induced "real estate developers with business before the state" to use a law firm that paid him kickbacks.

Though Glenwood wasn't specifically named in the criminal complaint, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said one of the developers "was the largest political contributor in the state since 2005," which is routinely identified as Glenwood. A source familiar with the probe has since confirmed Glenwood is one of the developers involved.

Bharara also is investigating whether Skelos extorted Glenwood to make campaign contributions to Republicans and finance a job for his son through an environmental company. Skelos then allegedly pressured Nassau County to award the environmental firm a $12 million stormwater management contract and successfully shepherded state legislation that benefited the real estate industry.

Glenwood hasn't been accused of wrongdoing, and one of its executives has been a cooperating witness, according to the indictments.

When the indictments broke, a Newsday review found at least $13.4 million in donations since 1999 from Litwin, his family, Glenwood, company executives and other limited-liability companies that share Glenwood's home address, 1200 Union Tpke. in New Hyde Park.

LLCs are treated as individual donors, not corporations, by the state Board of Elections.

This allows LLCs to legally circumvent campaign-finance rules that limit contributions by corporations to $5,000 and individuals to $150,000 combined for all campaigns each year. Newsday's review found 1,887 separate contributions to 361 recipients, either to candidates or party committees, by Glenwood and affiliates.

"I'm relieved that they felt they had to pull back after being exposed for how to play the game in Albany," said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union, an elections watchdog group. But he said the "lack of serious reform" proposals in Albany and lack of action to close the LLC loophole on contributions was "dismaying."

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