Large Payments to a Nonprofit Linked to Mayor De Blasio and the Hotel Association Raise Questions
For the past several months, we have been investigating the political and business activities of Peter Ward, who holds three lucrative union positions: president of the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council (HTC); business manager of Local 6; and recording secretary and executive committee member of UNITE HERE.
On Feb. 4, 2016, the New York Daily News published an article by Investigative Reporter Greg Smith about how the De Blasio Administration cut off discussions with home sharing leader Airbnb after UNITE HERE made a $200,000 contribution to De Blasio’s now-defunct Campaign for One New York. Ward’s spokesperson, Austin Shafran (Senior Vice President for Strategic Affairs at Metropolitan Strategies), stated on-the-record that Peter Ward was
“not aware this contribution had been made until he read about it in the Daily News.”
We found this statement by Mr. Sharan to be quite curious. The $200,000 contribution to Campaign for One New York was UNITE HERE’S largest contribution (see p. 100) by far to any nonprofit in New York in 2015. One of Mr. Ward’s responsibilities as recording secretary is to keep minutes recording all major decisions like this one.
Multiple Letters and Calls Unreturned by Ward
On Feb. 9, we emailed a letter directly to Mr. Ward asking about these inconsistencies, but received no reply. On March 10, we sent the letter again and followed up by phone with Mr. Ward’s executive assistant Desiree Roy to make sure the letter was not overlooked. Ms. Roy said,
“I’ll print out the letter, put it on his desk and he’ll call you on Monday.”
Unfortunately, Monday has come and gone without a reply.
Last October, we also attempted to contact Mr. Ward to learn about his method for getting member approval for a $100,000 payment from HTC to the Hotel Association of New York City (HANY), the association of hotel owners with whom he negotiates on behalf of his members.
The $100,000 payment to HANY occurred at around the same time as the $200,000 contribution to the Campaign for One New York.
You can read our Feb. 9 letter to Ward by clicking on the image below or HERE.
Perhaps there is an explanation for these unusual contributions. But the questions for Mr. Ward are not going away.
Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, a national watchdog blog that seeks to hold government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP comes from sustainable economy philanthropies and donors.
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