Rep. Carolyn Maloney wants to perish the thought of losing a beloved hot dog shop, but over the years she’s relished in the campaign contributions from the place’s potential evictor.
Maloney (D-N.Y.) recently lamented that Papaya King, the popular Upper East Side eatery in Manhattan, might soon be driven out of business by its landlord — but what she neglected to mention is that the chairman of the company who owns the building has donated generously to her campaigns since 2009.
Papaya King has been slinging franks and fruity drinks since the Great Depression, a time-worn tradition that may soon come to an end since the real estate giant Extell Development filed plans to tear down its one-story home on E. 86th St. and Third Ave.
“Papaya King is an East Side institution that has served generations of NYers since 1932,” Maloney, who’s running for re-election, wrote on Twitter last Thursday. ”The new building owner is trying to kick them out to develop the site. NYC has lost far too many of its historic eateries. Let’s not lose another small business that helped shape this City.”
In her tweet — which is replete with a photo of her holding a hot dog outside the corner take-out shop — Maloney does not mention who the owner is, though.
That might be because Extell Chairman Gary Barnett has given her $33,900 over the last 13 years, including $5,000 in February, federal election records show. Maloney has taken in $15,600 in donations from Barnett’s wife Ayala Barnett over the years as well.
Bob Liff, a spokesman for Maloney’s campaign, dismissed the congresswoman’s omission of Extell in her tweet, saying that she “has never chosen or tempered her views based on who donates to her campaign.”
“That is why she has pressed for banking regulations and consumer credit protections that have at times angered leaders of the financial industry based in her city,” Liff said. “Papaya King has been a beloved Upper East Side establishment for a long time. No campaign contributor will stop her from sticking up for what is right for her community and constituents.”
Liff is a senior vice president at George Arzt Communications.
Arzt, a political consultant and longtime advisor to Maloney, also lists Extell on his website as one of his clients and has served as a lobbyist for the developer in the past, city records show.
Maloney is currently running in a three-way primary race to hold onto her Congressional seat and is facing off against another long-time incumbent, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who’s running for Maloney’s seat due to redistricting, and Suraj Patel, who’s faced off against her twice before.
Patel dissed Maloney for sending a mixed message when it comes to the shop and Extell.
“50k in donations is a Papaya King’s ransom,” he quipped.
Nadler has been the beneficiary of Barnett’s largesse too — since 2006, he’s raked in $41,500 from him, election records show.
A spokesman for Nadler declined to comment.
Last month, as first reported by Patch.com, Extell Executive Vice President David Rothstein filed plans with the city’s Department of Buildings to demolish the low-rise building Papaya King occupies. That agency’s records show Rothstein’s application calls for a “FULL DEMOLITION OF ONE STORY STRUCTURE.”
Reps for Papaya King could not be reached for comment. A person answering the phone at Extell’s Manhattan offices hung up when contacted by the Daily News.