Called “New York’s billionaire political disrupter” by The New York Times, Ronald Lauder, heir to the Estée Lauder cosmetics empire, has added more than $11 million to Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin’s efforts to oust Democrat Kathy Hochul from the governor’s mansion and end New York City’s surge in violent crime.
“You couldn’t pay me to get on the subway,” the 78-year-old philanthropist and avid art collector told The Times, adding that he didn’t want his children and grandchildren “to have to go with bodyguards” as he does.
A top donor to two super PACs, Lauder has “tilted the playing field” for Republicans in one of the most liberal states in the nation.
“The Safe Together NY Super PAC, and Save Our State NY Super PAC have been using Lauder’s money to buy ads attacking Hochul on rising crime and offering desperately needed cash to the Zeldin campaign,” according to the Jewish Press.
There “is little doubt that Mr. Lauder has single-handedly tilted the playing field for his party,” The Times reports. “Since he began spending on a barrage of attack ads, Gov. Kathy Hochul, the Democratic incumbent, has watched polling and fund-raising advantages that once looked insurmountable dwindle. And Democrats fighting to hold the House of Representatives have seen their blue firewall crumble.”
Crime in the Empire State has spiraled out of control in recent years, despite what Governor Hochul claims, and much of it has to do with Hochul’s refusal to overhaul the state’s bail reform law that has created a revolving door for criminals who are arrested and released, only to commit more violent crimes.
People are being pushed off subway platforms, beaten and robbed while they ride, and choked and raped while out on their morning jog.
Still, as BizPac Review reported, Hochul insists that talk of crime is a right-wing conspiracy theory and that cashless bail has no impact on violence in the Big Apple.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) November 5, 2022
In contrast, Zeldin has made crime the center of his campaign.
“We all deserve better,” he tweeted on Sunday.
Yesterday, @BillClinton and @KathyHochul were laughing and joking about recent subway crimes. This tells you everything you need to know about how little they care about your life and safety. The countless victims of rampant crime do not think it's funny. We all deserve better. pic.twitter.com/vQjMOi4eDO
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) November 6, 2022
But without Lauder’s injection of cash, it is doubtful that Zeldin could have presented the challenge to Hochul that he has.
“Lee Zeldin was roadkill and then Ronald Lauder came along,” a New York political strategist told the Financial Times. “Win or lose, he owes his entire campaign to him. No one else was there.”
Richard D. Parsons, the former chairman of Citigroup, is one of Lauder’s closest friends.
“He sees the city heading in the direction that it headed in the mid-1970s,” Parsons told The Times. “He doesn’t want to see that. And I understand that.”
But according to Hochul, Lauder’s motivations aren’t quite so altruistic.
At a fundraiser last month, the struggling governor stated that, even after a year of raising, she is in dire need of more cash because she and other Democrats didn’t anticipate Lauder’s involvement in the race.
In an interview, she suggested there is a quid-pro-quo arrangement with Zeldin.
“It’s not a beef. It’s what he’s going to get in return,” she stated, noting that Zeldin plans to cut taxes on large estates. “Ron Lauder is going to get a lot more than a thank-you note from Lee Zeldin.”
Lauder dismissed the suggestion.
“It has nothing to do with money for myself, a millionaire tax,” he said. “Frankly, if I was a different person, I would have moved already.”
For Lauder, it’s more about maintaining a robust two-party system in America.
“I’m no ogre,” he said. “It’s a question of one thing I believe in, always have. I want two parties. I want a Republican and a Democratic Party. When you have just one party, I believe things go wrong.”
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