When Ed Malloy, leader of 200,000 unionized construction workers, was named grand marshal of this year’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, developers Donald Trump and Jack Rudin saluted him in a Post profile, with Trump calling him “one of the finest human beings you’ll ever meet.” Neither said a word about the favors they’d done for the man who also chairs the board of the National Museum of Catholic Art and History—a charity these two non-Catholics have supported generously, along with other developers who do substantial business with Malloy’s union.
Trump has welcomed Malloy at Mar a Lago, his Palm Beach resort, two or three times for several-day free stays, flying him, museum director Christina Cox, and sometimes others back on his personal plane. Malloy also asked the Rudin Organization to rent Cox an apartment in their building at 300 East 57th Street, where she lived for more than three years. The lease was with the museum, which paid at least half the $3100 monthly rent. Malloy conceded these events in a wide-ranging Voice interview, though museum officials say he actually went to Mar a Lago with Cox more often than that, where he apparently slept with the mesmerizing museum madonna.
The Florida trips—each of which was worth at least $10,000, based on prices obtained from Mar a Lago manager Bernd Lembcke—may well be a violation of federal labor laws for Trump and Malloy. They make it a crime for “any employer to pay, lend or deliver any money or other thing of value to any representative of any of his employees,” or for any labor official “to request, demand, receive, or accept anything of value.” The statute uses very broad terms to describe the business relationship, but some labor insiders contend it is only enforced when the employer and union leader have jointly signed a collective bargaining agreement (it’s unclear if Malloy and Trump have).
The Rudin rental would be a violation if it was not done “at the prevailing market price in the regular course of business.”
Labor leaders—at least one of whom was in the construction trades—have been prosecuted for taking a benefit, including ones for a girlfriend, from employers whose projects they have also helped to finance. Malloy boasted in the museum journal about his role in securing union financing for Trump’s project at 40 Wall Street, and told the Voice that he helped to steer $200 million into that project, as well as $13 million into Mar a Lago. He put no price tag on the union financing involved in another Trump project—his giant building near the United Nations—but he said he helped with that too. Almost all of the major contractors donating labor and materials to the renovation of the planned museum have also concurrently worked on Trump projects.
Malloy wasn’t the only museum trustee to play a pivotal role in the Trump financing. Bill Fugazy represents ULLICO—the United Labor Life Insurance Company, which is the investment arm of the construction unions—and he concedes he was the broker on all three of the Trump financings. Developers usually pay him a 1.5 percent fee for arranging such deals. Bob Georgine, the president of ULLICO and ex-head of the national construction unions, was the honoree of one museum dinner and loaned the museum $1 million. Fugazy also set up a meeting between Cardinal O’Connor and Trump to get the archdiocese to approve the sale of air rights over an Eastside church to Trump so that the developer could add stories to his controversial UN tower. Fugazy negotiated the terms of the sale with the archdiocesan real estate director, David Brown, a convicted felon, like Fugazy, who was pardoned by President Clinton in the final wave of pardons. Fugazy took the same path—O’Connor to Brown—to get approval of the museum’s move to his East Harlem site.
Malloy has repositioned his union—once seen as the state’s most conservative—by donating services to the Gay Men’s Health Center and to homeless organizations to aid renovation projects, as well as by endorsing Democrats like Hillary Clinton. The museum, Cox, and the Trump ties are the only known blots on a record that has many admirers.
Related articles by Wayne Barrett:
Part I: Beauty and the Big Shots: The Sexcapades and Politics Behind New York’s Bogus Catholic Museum
Part II: Dark Angels of a Bogus Catholic Museum: Felons, Wiseguys & Usual Suspects Back a Bizarre Charity