Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) speaks to reporters.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) speaks to reporters. Credit: EPA-EFE / Shutterstock / Erik S. Lesser

Daily Point

Peek inside the war chests

New York’s 1st Congressional District is awash in money again this cycle. 

Rep. Lee Zeldin raised more than $714,000 in the end-of-year quarter, including $155,850 from political committees, according to FEC filings. 

Federal Election Commission records logged contributions from insurance companies and banks like Goldman Sachs, HSBC and JPMorgan Chase. 

The Shirley Republican still had more than $1.5 million on hand as of year’s end, despite spending $370,000 for the quarter. That spending included more than $20,000 at Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in mid-October and November. That was a few weeks before Donald Trump Jr. participated in a St. James fundraiser for Zeldin at which Trump Jr.’s new book “Triggered” was included for donors, as per an event ad. The Zeldin disbursements were marked “Books for Event” in FEC filings. 

Zeldin’s potential Democratic challengers also are building sizable war chests. Stony Brook scientist Nancy Goroff led the way with $362,037 in receipts for the quarter, though that includes a chunk from donors who already have maxed out for a general election run that she hopes to be in. She logged $636,442 cash on hand while East Hampton businessman and 2018 challenger Perry Gershon showed $549,340. Suffolk County Legis. Bridget Fleming, who entered the race only after securing her county seat this fall, rounds out the pack with just over $200,000 on hand, as of the most recent filings. 

That’s all more activity than in the neighboring 2nd Congressional District, where Rep. Pete King’s late retirement announcement in November set off a frenzy among GOP hopefuls but not an obvious monetary frontrunner. Democratic contender Jackie Gordon has been consolidating support and funds from national liberal groups on her side of the aisle, but from the FEC filings currently available, no candidate in that district has more than $300,000 on hand.

Maybe less room for mass book purchases, then. 

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Deep dive on Belmont development

It felt, for a moment, like The Point was still subscribing to the old version of Netflix.

Last week, a DVD showed up in the mail, sent by the state’s Empire State Development arm, in response to The Point’s Freedom of Information Law request for hundreds of pages of leases, appraisals and other documents related to the redevelopment of Belmont Park.

While it seems Empire State Development might be stuck in the late 1990s there was a bit of an explanation: DVDs remain much cheaper than their more current USB drive counterparts. “We continually balance our legal obligations with efforts to protect taxpayer dollars and reduce costs for requestors, including sometimes using older, cheaper — yet no less effective — technology,” ESD spokesman Jack Sterne told The Point.

Within the documents were plenty of interesting nuggets about the Belmont plans, and a look at how state officials and Belmont’s developers — a partnership between the owners of the New York Islanders, the owners of the New York Mets, and an arena development company called Oak View Group — see the future of the property, and beyond, unfolding.

For instance:

  • The 446-page lease specifically outlines what would happen if night racing comes to Belmont: “If night racing, which has not been authorized by the New York State Legislature, is approved … [it] would not be scheduled on the same evening as a hockey game,” the lease states, adding that a non-hockey game could occur at the arena simultaneously with night racing only if the two events put together wouldn’t bring in more than 18,000 fans, the lease says.
  • The lease also contemplates the notion of other arenas in the region, saying the state can’t provide land or substantial amounts of money toward “any new indoor facility having a capacity of more than 10,000” that’s within a five-mile radius of the new Belmont Park arena. The lease also prevents any newly built arena in Nassau County that’s on state land from hosting pro hockey games. These prohibitions are so specific that there is likely to be no impact on major properties across the area, including the Nassau Hub, the Ronkonkoma Hub, CitiField, and Aqueduct Racetrack, all of which fall outside the five-mile radius.
  • The lease construction schedule indicates the arena should be substantially completed by Oct. 5, 2021. That would mean the arena could open in time for the start of the 2021-2022 hockey season.
  • Upfront, the lease required the developers to pay $20 million to the state as of Nov. 7, 2019 — a payment that Empire State officials confirmed was received. The developers then will have to pay an additional $20 million as of Nov. 7, 2020, and another $10 million in early 2021. The developers will make rent payments of $2.24 million annually to NYS for 29 years. Payments in lieu of taxes to the state, county, and school and fire districts that will amount to $272 million over 49 years. On top of that, the developer will pay the New York Racing Association $1.85 million a year for use of three parking lots. But with about 5,000 parking spots total, the developers likely can make more than 10 times that money. 
  • The lease also spells out the developers' financing plans, outlining two loans: a $540 million building loan mortgage, and a $60 million project loan mortgage. Both are being provided by Bank of America.
  • The lease spells out the developers’ ability to give out naming rights on various pieces of the project, including the arena. 

While there are plenty of choices for those naming rights, perhaps the most obvious one is found right in the lease itself.

BofA Arena, anyone?   

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

Io-wa Kenobi

Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson

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Quick Points

  • When President Bill Clinton delivered his 1999 State of the Union speech amid his impeachment trial, he did not mention the I-word even once. Wanna bet that in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday President Donald Trump beats a Clinton again?
  • After neighboring Russia cut its supply of oil to Belarus, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the nation’s authoritarian president that the U.S. will supply Belarus with 100% of its oil and gas needs to help it achieve “sovereignty” and “independence.” Funny, when Russian threatened the sovereignty and independence of another neighbor, the administration in which Pompeo serves wouldn’t supply Ukraine and its democratically elected president with $391 million in military aid.
  • Much has been made of the fact that the closing argument for Democratic presidential candidates for Monday’s Iowa caucuses was: Beat Trump. Wasn’t that their opening argument, too?
  • Now that Brexit has happened and Britain is leaving the European Union, its leaders better hope it doesn’t become a case of be-careful-what-you-wish-for: If things go wrong, who’s Britain going to blame now?
  • Despite President Donald Trump’s certain acquittal in his impeachment trial, GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander said after this experience Trump “would think twice” before making another call like the one to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Really, Lamar?
  • After not subpoenaing John Bolton and pursuing his refusal in court in the House inquiry and then seeing the Senate vote not to call witnesses, lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff said there is nothing Democrats could have done differently in the trial.  Really, Adam?
  • You can look at Iowa’s caucuses Monday night as the end of the first phase of the presidential campaign, or the beginning of the second phase of voting. But for some candidates, the caucuses will be the beginning of the end.
  • Sign of the times: One offshore gambling site has a proposition on the number of times President Donald Trump will utter a “non-truth” during Tuesday’s State of the Union speech. The over-under? 27.5.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie


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