Hempstead Village trustee and Republican mayoral candidate Don Ryan is calling on the state to investigate $125,000 in donations by developers to a political action committee supporting Mayor Wayne Hall’s re-election.
Ryan held a news conference Friday morning, four days before Election Day, outside Village Hall questioning the donations made by Plainview developer Renaissance Downtowns to the independent Committee for a Safe and Vibrant Hempstead.
The committee has sent out fliers and campaigned for Hall’s re-election, as well as the re-elections of trustees Luis Figueroa and Waylyn Hobbs ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
Renaissance and its Manhattan-based partner Urban America LLC are planning a 10-year, $2.5 billion downtown redevelopment on 32 acres of separate parcels along Main Street, including mixed-use apartments and retail, a hotel, movie theater and parking. The project also includes a new apartment building at the corner of Washington and Front streets.
The village transferred 14 vacant parcels off the tax rolls to Renaissance in 2015 at no cost with an $8 million community benefit agreement.
Hall, a Democrat, has campaigned on the development to revitalize the village and attract jobs and economic development.
Ryan questioned whether Renaissance’s donations amounted to a pay-to-play deal for the 2011 downtown redevelopment deal, and called on the state attorney general to investigate the donations.
“These donations were not made to a politician, but to a cause,” Ryan said. “There cannot be any cooperation between the two.”
The attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
Renaissance made five $25,000 donations to the Hempstead committee, starting Feb. 10. The latest donation was made Thursday.
Questions to Renaissance executives were referred to the Committee for a Safe and Vibrant Hempstead, which in a statement denied any impropriety.
“As an independent expenditure committee, the Committee for a Safe and Vibrant Hempstead has no affiliation with or connection to any candidate committee or any of its agents,” the statement said.
Hall’s campaign manager said the donations are unrelated to Hall’s campaign.
“The Village of Hempstead deserves real Democratic leadership, not more demagoguery and division, and Republican Don Ryan should be ashamed,” said Micheil Yohannes, Hall’s campaign manager with the Moving Forward Party.
Ryan said he has opposed the Renaissance project since developers focused on Front Street apartments instead of downtown redevelopment, but he supported the Main Street project.
He had filed a lawsuit against Renaissance and the Hempstead Industrial Development Agency, claiming the apartment building improperly was given a $33 million tax break. A state Supreme Court judge ruled against Ryan in January.