After reading the comments in my earlier post about the confluence between a recent property seizure in Oakland and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s wild defense of eminent domain in the Kelo decision, I did a bit more digging into the lead developer on the Oakland project, Forest City Enterprises, Inc.
Forest City is a publicly-traded development and real estate conglomerate run by the Ratner family of Cleveland, Ohio. Led by the Ratners, Forest City is a player in major developments on both coasts (and many places in between), including some of the hottest hot spots in eminent domain seizures.
The biggest, or at least the most publicized, involves a huge tract of Brooklyn in New York City. The Ratners are proposing to turn it into a condo-shopping-basketball-arena complex; Bruce Ratner of Forest Park is the owner of the New Jersey Nets. The Ratners are lobbying the city and state of New York to exercise eminent domain powers to seize properties in Brooklyn for this project.
(Incidentally, Bruce Ratner’s brother Michael runs the far-left humanrightsnow.org website, and is president of the George Soros-funded “Center for Constitutional Rights,” and is one of the major legal players trying to free the terrorist prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Quite a family there.)
In addition to the Uptown Project in Oakland, Forest City is a prime contractor in a gigantic shopping mall project in San Francisco which involves eminent domain seizures of private property. The company is also partnered with the New York Times to build the Times’ new headquarters in Manhattan–on a site that was seized especially for the Times by New York City. Small surprise then that the Times is (thus far) second only to Nancy Pelosi in cheerleading for the Kelo decision.
Speaking of Pelosi, as the Democrats’ leader in the House, San Fran Nan has been the beneficiary of a great deal of campaign largesse from the Ratners. Based on numbers from OpenSecrets.org, people named Ratner who were employed by Forest City companies donated at least $18,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2002 and 2004 cycles (I also include one individual named Ratner identifed as a “homemaker” who had the same address as another Ratner/Forest City contributor).
The Ratners are also major contributors to other heavyweight Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Chris Dodd, Nita Lowey, Tom Daschle, Joe Lieberman, John Kerrey, as well as disctinctly non-Democratic names like George W. Bush and Rick Santorum. Nothing unusual there; many corporate donors hedge their bets by giving to both parties.
Even so, the large amounts given to the DCCC (18 donations of $1000 per donor, vs. no Ratner/Forest City donations that I can find to the NRCC), many of which were given in late October of election years, suggest that the Ratners are keen to get the attention of congressional Democrats–and particularly their leader–at electoral crunch time.
Gee, I wonder why?
Perhaps more importantly, why did I have to look all this stuff up myself? Shouldn’t some MSM reporter have written about it already? It’s not like it was hard to find.
Jay Rosen, if you’re listening, if you changed the acronym DCCC to NRCC, and “Forest City” to “Halliburton,” if Tom Delay had compared Kelo to ‘the word of God,’ if the family running Halliburton was also involved in legal defense for terrorists, and if the decision had also been heartily endorsed by Fox News, d’ya think I might have read about that in the Washington Post by now?