A scandal-scarred real estate investor who spent time in prison for money laundering forked over $69,000 to Gov. Hochul’s campaign last week — a big financial boost in the final days of the Democratic gubernatorial race, according to state records.
Alex Adjmi, who heads the New York City-based real estate company A&H Acquisitions, gave the hefty contribution — the largest amount allowed by law — on Friday, campaign finance filings show.
The governor, who’s in the midst of gearing up for Tuesday’s primary election, has faced heat from government ethics watchdogs in the past over her reliance on campaign contributions from real estate interests, and Adjmi’s donation is likely to fuel those concerns.
The real estate honcho spent 44 months in federal prison in the 1990s for his role in a money-laundering conspiracy carried out on behalf of the notorious Cali drug cartel in Colombia.
In his final day in office, former President Donald Trump granted Adjmi a full pardon. According to a White House statement from the time, Trump issued the Adjmi pardon after it was recommended by the son of the late Stanley Chera, another prominent New York real estate executive with whom Trump is close friends.
In a brief phone interview Monday afternoon, Adjmi said he chipped in cash to Hochul’s camp because of her “crime policies.”
“I think she’s good on crime, and I think she’ll do a good job for the city,” he told the Daily News. “I think she’s going to win, and I think she’s the best candidate that’s out there.”
A Hochul campaign spokeswoman did not return a request for comment on Adjmi’s contribution.
Adjmi has not made any other political donations in this month’s election cycle, according to campaign finance records.
He has given money to politicians on both sides of the aisle in past election cycles, though, including contributing $5,000 in 2019 to Eric Adams’ successful mayoral campaign, records show.
Hochul has raised more than $30 million for her campaign so far, putting it on track to become one of the most expensive gubernatorial bids in New York history.
A sizable chunk of Hochul’s campaign fortune comes from real estate executives, including Vornado chairman Stephen Roth, who gave her the legal maximum amount in December.
Douglas Jemal, another prominent real estate developer whose 2006 wire fraud conviction was pardoned by Trump last year, is also a Hochul donor, having given her $53,700 last month, campaign finance records show.
John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, a government watchdog group that has been critical of Hochul’s fundraising practices, said the Adjmi contribution sends a problematic message to the public and urged the governor to return the money.
“Taking big contributions from a convicted Cali cartel money launderer fuels public cynicism in government and suggests that the governor’s put out a sign that says, ‘State For Sale,’” he said. “The governor talks about transparency and restoring confidence and trust in government and this is the opposite of doing that.”