Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photography Office.

Some have given the mayor deliciously flavored corn. But most have given him checks of $175 or less, as he claimed in the first official mayoral debate.


After taking flak from Democratic opponent Sal Albanese over his alleged involvement in “pay to play” politics and ties to wealthy real-estate developers, Mayor de Blasio offered this claim at Wednesday night’s debate:

“I’m proud to say that over 80 percent of my donations come from people who gave $175 or less. That’s a grassroots campaign and I believe in that approach.”

(The quote comes at about the 30-minute mark of last night’s 90-minute event.)

The mayor’s claim is correct.

But it could be interpreted to mean something it doesn’t.

The verdict

According to the New York City Campaign Finance Board’s “Follow the Money” database, de Blasio has so far received 14,789 contributions totaling $4,841,843.71.

Of those 14,789 contributions, 11,894 were for amounts of $175 or less. That’s 80 percent, just as the mayor said. In fact, fewer than 7 percent of de Blasio’s contributions came in amounts of more than $1,000. Just under 800 individual donors who gave a donation of $175 or less have given the mayor more in total by sending a second, separate payment. But it’s still true that the vast majority of the donations to the mayor were pretty small.

So the mayor was telling the truth.

The bigger picture

The important thing to keep in mind here, though, is that the mayor was talking about transactions, not dollar value.

While most of the mayor’s donations come from small donors, most of his total campaign fundraising comes from larger ones. Because, well, big checks are … bigger than small ones.

Only 9 percent of the money de Blasio has raised comes from payments of $175 or less. Fifty-one percent came from payments of $4000 or more.

(The maximum permissible donation to a citywide candidate is $4,950. The significance of the $175 figure, for those who are puzzled by it, is that under the city’s public financing program, up to $175 of qualifying donations are only matched by public funds to qualifying campaigns.)

Charts illustrating the breakdown of donations are below.

The even bigger picture

Here are some other fun facts about the mayor’s campaign contributions:

De Blasio had received $2.6 million in public funds in addition to his private fundraising and had spent just under $2.5 million, which left him with a cool $5 million on hand at last report.

More than $2.3 million of the mayor’s fundraising has come from 509 donations that came in at the maximum.

Thirty-eight percent of de Blasio’s money has come from outside the city. Within the city, the borough breakdown is Manhattan 30 percent, Brooklyn 19 percent, Queens 8 percent, Staten Island 3 percent and the Bronx 2.5 percent.

Roughly 94 percent of his money came from individuals; 3 percent is identified as coming from Political Action Committees and 2 percent from unions (although some of the PACs have union connections.)

About a third of de Blasio’s fundraising occurred after January 11, the first reporting deadline of 2017. The rest was hauled in before.

The mayor has received nearly $534,000 in bundled money from 38 intermediaries. The top 20 fundraisers are:


Arana Hankin Senior Vice President External WeWork $68,750
Suri Kasirer President Kasirer Consulting $56,030
James F Capalino president Capalino & Company $44,940
Eugene Schneur Real Estate Developer Omni New York $30,100
Chris Taylor Investing MacAndrews & Forbes $29,700
Kenneth Fisher Partner Fisher Brothers $27,250
Bill Rudin Real Estate Rudin Management Company $25,150
Sol Arker Real Estate Progressive Management of NY $24,600
Charles Dayan Real Estate Bonjour Capital $19,800
Harold Ickes Principal Ickes Enright Group $19,250
Sid Davidoff Partner Davidoff Malito & Hutcher $18,400
Michael Woloz PR Connelly McLaughlin & Woloz $16,650
Scott Alper Partner The Witkoff Group $14,850
Frances Resheske Public Affairs ConEdison $13,550
Edward C Wallace Co-Managing Greenberg Taurig $13,150
Steve Sinacori Attorney Ackerman LLP $13,050
Fernando Mateo $12,500
David Poleto Lobbyist Park Strategies LLC $10,900
Howard Fensterman Managing Partner Abrams Fensterman $9,900
Bruce Ratner CEO Forest City Ratner Companies $9,900
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This first chart illustrates the point the mayor made at the debate: The whopping majority of donations to his campaign were small.
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But while de Blasio has received way more small checks than big ones, the big ones obviously have more weight in his campaign war chest: