Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NY Post: Gay Pol Johnson Worked for Anti-Gay Marriage Firm

(Corey Johnson with Lady Gaga at the National Equality March in 2009. Credit: Towleroad.)

Color me way over Democratic Party gays working their way up the political ladder and maintaining the status quo,with only lip service paid to challenging or actually changing political norms.

The NY Post's reporter M.L. Nestel shared this news on Monday:

The gay community-board chairman running for City Council this year tried to hide his past work for corporate clients that have opposed marriage equality, The Post has learned. Corey Johnson, 31, who is in the race for Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s seat, proudly portrays himself as a trailblazer for gay rights [...]

But from 2008 to 2010, he served as director of government and community affairs at Wall Street-based real-estate firm GFI Development Co. — a fact that was left off his site. GFI and some of its brass have spent more than $30,000 backing candidates who oppose gay marriage [...]

Johnson also says he’s a champion of affordable housing [...] “I did work for them, but I no longer work for them currently,” Johnson said about GFI.

Much, if not all, of this info seems to have originated from reporting blogger Seth Barron posted on June 13 at his City Council Watch site, reporting which included many links to source documents. Barron shed much light on this firm and their anti-tenant activities, and Johnson's work for the firm:

GFI Development buys old buildings and turns them into hotels, condominiums and the like.  Corey Johnson’s job was to facilitate the political side of things, as we see in this June 2009 article detailing his advocacy on behalf of a GFI development before Community Board 2 in Brooklyn.  

In 2008, around when they hired Corey to be their front man in New York City, GFI Development bought the old Breslin Hotel, on 29th Street, which was an SRO.  Their efforts to evict or buy out the existing tenants led to a series of court battles, but eventually the Breslin gave way to the trendy Ace Hotel.  Corey Johnson had his birthday party there when it opened in 2010, and was so delighted that he even wore a tiara, according to this record of the evening.

At the time of the Ace Hotel’s opening, Corey Johnson, top lobbyist and community affairs director for GFI Development, was also Vice-Chair of Community Board 4 and Co-Chair of the CB4 Land Use Committee.  Is this a conflict of interest?  Well, it is true that the Ace Hotel at 29th and Broadway is two blocks east of CB4’s eastern boundary, so maybe not, technically.

I'm glad to see Barron's City Council Watch and the NY Post are keeping tabs on Johnson, and expect to see more sunshining of the candidate as the race for the District 3 City Council seat progresses to the fall primary. Oh, and the NY Post should have properly credited Seth Barron for his investigative reporting.

No comments: