BORO PARK – The turncoat Democrat State Senator Simcha Felder, who often caucuses with state Republican lawmakers, has always been honest with his constituent base. Earlier this year he reminded us all that he has no party allegiance. For Felder, his interests lie with the residents in the 17th senatorial district — just not all of them.
State Senator Simcha Felder, facing a Democratic primary challenger for his position in Blake Morris, has raised $495,160.00 for his campaign this year. In many of those cases, his donors represent companies that serve the upper echelon of the district. The majority of his campaign contributions come from non-individual donors and real estate LLC’s.
New York State regulates this industry, and Felder is receiving big contributions from the borough’s senior care facilities, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes. Spring Creek Rehabilitation Center contributed $5,000, Edison Home Health Care contributed $5,000, and Seagate Rehabilitation and Nursing Center contributed $6,000. The CEO of Greater NY Nursing Services, Shlomie Weiss donated $5,000 and Simon Pelman, the CEO of Union Plaza Care Center contributed $1,000.
Data from the NY Campaign Finance Board show that Felder’s campaign received $18,000 from a pro-charter school group, “New Yorkers for Putting Students First.” Another pro-charter school group, Great Public Schools PAC, donated $3,000. Felder has been a staunch supporter of less oversight of Yeshiva education standards.
The NY Post reported that Felder was able to help the Agudath Israel organization — focusing on social services for the Orthodox Jewish community– by getting them grants “totaling $850,000 — $350,000 for community-services programming, $300,000 for a legal-services initiative and $200,00 for educational-access services.”
“Two dozen other facilities in Felder’s district also shared in the windfall, from the Sephardic Bikur Holim community-service network ($90,000) to the Yaldeinu School for autistic children ($50,000),” NY Post further reported.
In 2013, Felder pushed to propose expanding bus service to private school students who attend late afternoon classes– many of the students who attend yeshivas, the Daily News reported. In 2015, NY provided $8.1 million in funding to provide transportation home to private school students, but the new bill would provide an additional $4.5 million in funding, as well as requiring buses to drop these students off no more than 600 feet from their homes. At the time, many city officials argued that it was a “political giveaway to the Orthodox Jewish community.”
Felder, who is a registered Democrat, has been caucusing with the Republicans since 2012. It may be no surprise then, that $11,000 were contributed by Friends of John Flannagan, the Republican leader of the State Senate. Campaign data shows $11,000 were also contributed by Peter Rebenwurzel, who runs Coney Realty Group in Brooklyn. Records show that Coney Realty Group owns over 50 properties.
Real estate contributions don’t stop there. Real Estate Board of NY (REBNY) contributed $11,000 to his campaign. Joseph J. Sitt, a popular real estate investor, contributed $10,000 and Jack Kishk from Century 21 Melanie Kishk Realty contributed $11,000. What the Real Deal coined as the “Powerful Landlord Group,” the Rent Stabilization Association, an organization that “works tirelessly to protect the real estate industry from anti-owner legislation and harmful regulation,” contributed $10,000.
Rita Marmurstein contributed $1,800 to the campaign. Marmurstein’s husband, Yacov “Jacob” Marmurstein, is the owner (MCIZ Corporation), a company that runs the B110 bus between Williamsburg and Boro Park. In 2011, the company was accused of segregation, by allegedly making women sit on the back of the bus. The company was also fined $482,750 by the Department of Environmental Conservation for dumping trash and motor oil along the Gowanus Canal.
Peter D’Arco donated $2,500 to Felder’s campaign. D’Arco is the owner of SJ Fuel and was charged with stealing $500,000 in heating oil from a terminal in Brooklyn.
Felder was not available for comment. Additional reporting by Zainab Iqbal.