Which Campaigns Do NYU Administrators Support?


New York’s presidential primary race has come and gone, but political campaign contributions are forever. NYU Local sorted through Federal Election Commission filings to find out where NYU’s power players are donating their money.

Former NYU president John Sexton is a Hillary Clinton fan, donating the maximum-allowed $2,700 to her presidential in 2016. He also contributed $1,000 to Clinton’s campaign to win a Senate seat in New York in 2000. (Current president Andrew Hamilton does not appear to have made any campaign donations in the United States, unsurprising as he moved to the country late last year.)

Former chair of the board of trustees Martin Lipton donates money. Wow, does Martin Lipton donate money. But it’s not clear why he donates money, or whether any strategy guides his donations. Does he gather a bipartisan group of politicians in a room with stacks of hundreds, and use a leaf blower to shower the money on them indiscriminately? Does he stuff a piñata with prepaid debit cards and allow congress members to whack it open on the Senate floor? Who knows! I cannot fathom any other reason someone would donate $2,500 to Senator Elizabeth Warren (a progressive Democrat and anti-Wall Street crusader), and $1,000 to Representative Peter King (a Republican who championed a series of controversial “radical Muslim” hearings and issued a lengthy statement condemning Beyonce’s “Formation” music video).

Lipton’s contributions to presidential campaigns are similarly baffling. In 2007 and 2008, he gave $2,300 to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and another $2,300 to Chris Dodd, one of Obama’s Democratic challengers. In 2015, however, Lipton’s contributions to the presidential race went to the right, with a $2,700 donation to Chris Christie’s failed presidential bid.

Current chair of the board of trustees William Berkley does not appear to have made any contributions under his own name, but golly, remember when he used to sit on the board at First Marblehead, a student loan company that spent millions lobbying Congress to restrict student access to federal loans?

Board of Trustees vice-chair Laurence Fink has donated at least $2,500 to Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, but also shelled out $2,400 for Carly Fiorina’s failed 2010 California Senate bid. His largest contributions, however, are a total $15,000 to Blackrock Capital Management Inc.’s Political Action Committee, his investment company’s lobbying arm, which in 2016 made 57 percent of its donations to Republican candidates.

Board of Trustees vice-chair Chandrika Tandon of the newly renamed NYU Tandon School of Engineering has donated several thousand dollars to congressional races, and $2,300 to Obama’s 2008 presidential bid, but nothing more recent than a $1,000 contribution to Senator Charles Schumer in 2011.

Board of Trustees vice-chair Daniel Tisch donated $5,000 to the Hillary Clinton-backing HillPAC in 2002, and $2,300 to Hillary Clinton For President in 2007.

Board of Trustees vice-chair Anthony Welters donated at least $2,700 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid in 2016, alone.

Board of Trustees vice-chair and Home Depot co-founder Kenneth Langone has donated over $200 million to NYU, so it’s hardly surprising that his FEC campaign contribution filings are documented over two exhaustingly dense webpages. His donations lean Republican, with frequent maximum contributions to the Friends of John Boehner group. In 2011, Langone shelled out $2,500 for Ted Cruz’s Senate re-election campaign, and in 1997 he gave $1,000 to “Citizens for Kasich”. During the 2012 presidential election cycle, Langone curiously donated $2,000 to Obama’s campaign and $2,500 to Mitt Romney’s opposing campaign.

During the current presidential election cycle, however, the bulk of Langone’s donations have been to Chris Christie’s failed campaign. Langone personally donated the maximum $2,700 to Christie’s campaign in 2015, and another $250,000 to the Christie-backing Super PAC “America Leads”.

“Would I write a check for $10 million? No, no I wouldn’t. But I do something better than that,” Langone said of Christie during a 2015 interview with the National Journal. “I go out and get a lot of people to write checks, and get them to get people to write checks, and hopefully result in a helluva lot more than $10 million.”

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