Borough president — though not ours! — says he’ll return tainted developer’s cash

Markowitz says he’ll ‘wait and see’ about giving back campaign cash from disgraced developer
The Brooklyn Paper / Gregory P. Mango

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer will return campaign cash from a disgraced developer — something his Brooklyn counterpart has refused to do.

Unlike Borough President Markowitz, Stringer will say fuggedaboutit to cash from Aaron Malinsky, who was arrested earlier this month in a federal probe into bribing a prominent southern Brooklyn state senator.

“The borough president is returning contributions in light of the federal indictment, and will be donating those funds to charity,” said Stringer spokeswoman Audrey Gelman.

The yet-to-be-specified charity can thank us for the coming donation.

The reason? We reported on our website on Wednesday — and in this week’s print editions — that Markowitz had refused to follow other politicians’ leads and return money from Malinsky, his family and other employees at PA Associates, the now-disgraced development firm implicated in the Carl Kruger bribery scandal.

After that story went viral, further investigation revealed that Stringer and his Bronx counterpart Ruben Diaz — had also been recipients of Malinsky’s munificence: Stringer accepted $31,950 in legal campaign contributions from Malinsky and his unindicted family members and business associates since 2004, and Diaz took in $14,850 since 2009.

Neither Diaz nor Stringer had initially announced any intention of returning the cash. But after we called, Stringer reconsidered — putting more heat on Markowitz, who reiterated that he’s keeping the cash, for now.

“If [Malinsky] is found guilty, the borough president will give the money to charity,” the Beep’s spokesman said late on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Markowitz said he would instead wait for the outcome of the criminal case, which alleges that Malinsky was one of eight people charged with funneling bribes to Kruger, a Markowitz ally, who in turn supported the developer’s projects in Mill Basin and Canarsie.

Malinsky, his relatives, and P/A partner Paul Slayton contributed $21,550 to Markowitz, according to the Campaign Finance Board.

Stringer joins Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand who said last week they would be returning the $250 that each received from Malinsky last August, and donating it to “worthwhile causes.”

New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez said he too plans to donate to charity $10,500 of the $33,000 in campaign donations he’s received from Malinsky.

Markowitz’s refusal to return the money raised some eyebrows in campaign finance quarters, given that he once pleaded guilty to election fraud in his 1985 race for borough president.

In that 1988 case, Markowitz admitted that he had laundered $25,000 through his personal bank account to disguise contributions from the Hyfin Credit Union, whose treasurer was later convicted of stealing from the credit union.

Markowitz avoided jail — but the appearance of impropriety even two decades ago suggested to some that he needs to go above and beyond today.

“He needs to be very proactive to show that he’s learned from his mistakes,” said Susan Lerner of Common Cause New York.

Manhattan Borough President, however, is giving back the money.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini