Although there was no guarantee in writing that public funds would help pay for the walkway, he said, “we went forward with the expectation that the city was going to do what it could do. The whole idea was to create open space.”
Mr. Gans defended the federal expenditures, saying the project set aside more open space than any other private developer in the city. He said the federal money helped with urban revitalization and open-space preservation on the waterfront.
Both Mr. Gans and a partner in a development company involved in the Maxwell project, Hoboken Brownstone, have contributed more than $45,000 in political donations to Mr. Menendez’s campaigns over the years, and $16,000 to Mr. Lautenberg, election records show.
Mr. Gans said the donations played no role in the lawmakers’ help in securing the federal funding.
“It wasn’t as if Bob Menendez came in and said, ‘What can I do for you guys?’ It was initiated by the city,” he said. “This didn’t come about through our support of them.”
Mr. Gans said he has supported both Mr. Lautenberg and Mr. Menendez for years, before and after their work securing funds for the Sinatra walkway project.
Both lawmakers also have received significant contributions from Toll Brothers employees and executives, records show. They’ve given Mr. Menendez’s campaigns at least $23,700 in contributions and another $15,400 to Mr. Lautenberg.
Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, said the flow of contributions from developers to the politicians involved gives the appearance of “back-scratching.”
“It looks like another one of these examples of payoffs to friends and political allies using taxpayer money,” she said.
Subsequent developers, along with aides to Mr. Menendez and Mr. Lautenberg, also said the donations played no role in the lawmakers’ work to secure the earmarks.
“We do not comment on specific political contributions made by individual directors or employees other than to say that such contributions were in compliance with federal election rules,” Toll Brothers spokeswoman Christine Sciarrotta wrote in an e-mail to The Times.
Ms. Sciarrotta called the project a “successful public-private partnership” that resulted in a “beautiful public park and walkway along the Hoboken waterfront.”
“We understand the city of Hoboken sought funding as early as 1999,” she said. “Funding for these types of projects often takes many years to secure.”
“This was a cooperative effort between PT Maxwell, the city of Hoboken and the New Jersey Department of Transportation,” Ms. Sciarrotta wrote. “For their part, PT Maxwell donated five acres of waterfront property to the City of Hoboken, and expended significant sums beyond the federal grant in cleaning up and improving the public park/walkway.”
While PT Maxwell is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Toll Brothers, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, it was described in a 2006 article in New York Construction, a trade publication, as a joint venture between Toll Brothers and New Jersey-based developer Pinnacle Downtown.View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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