BAY RIDGE — Negotiating rent laws in Albany could be a problem if one of the city’s 100 worst landlords donated to your campaign.
State Senator-elect Andrew Gounardes accepted in-kind campaign donations from 309-86 Street Realty LTD., owned by Theodore Vallas, who happens to be the 82nd worst landlord on the Public Advocate’s 2018 Worst Landlord’s List that was released on December 19th.
Gounardes parked his campaign office at one of Vallas’ properties, 8517 3rd Avenue (also known as 311 86th Street), in Bay Ridge. According to the New York State Board of Elections, Gounardes received three in-kind donations of $1,500 each between August 1 to October 1, though it is unclear what they were for.
While Vallas owns at least eight properties in Brooklyn, the 3rd Avenue building is one of three locations the public advocate’s office used to qualify him as one of the city’s 100 worst landlords. The building has 185 Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) violations, 73 of which are still open. The violations range from trashy courtyards to leaky ceilings and failure to address mold issues.
Evan Weinberg of Gounardes’ campaign office sent the following statement in response to a question about accepting donations from the bad actor:
“Andrew released 19 policy platforms during the campaign, including the need for public financing of campaigns to eliminate outside influence and conflicts of interests and a robust housing platform focused on protecting tenant’s rights .”
When asked if Gounardes would refund the $4,500 Vallas donated to his campaign, the office did not respond.
It is unclear if Vallas has been on the Public Advocate’s Worst Landlords list previously, as the Public Advocate does not keep public archives of the old lists on the website.