When did Quinn start lying?

In 1999, when Christine Quinn first ran to succeed Tom Duane as NYC's third district councilmember, she made a strong and unequivocal promise to her then future constituents: She had not and would not take money from landlords or developers. "No I haven't and no I won't," she said with emphasis.

And we believed her. After all, she had formerly been the Chief of Staff to Tom Duane, who as (at that time) a strong tenants' advocate. And she had a strong history of advocacy herself. But that was ten years ago and the Christine Quinn of 2009 is not the Christine Quinn of 1999.

Maybe Quinn has a short memory retention, but it did not take long before Quinn started to break her promise. A re-examination of her campaign contributions from 1999 shows she was lying through her teeth even during her first campaign. And today, as then, she's in complete denial. (more after the jump)

A number of the contributions Quinn received prior to her first election, in February 1999, showed she was slipping. While the 1999 real estate money pales in comparison to the lock the real estate industry has on the 2009 Quinn, but it was a start. And she even accepted some developer/landlord money before she made her denial in late 1998. And with less than 600 contributors for the entire campaign, Quinn has no excuse for claiming she didn't know.

Jerome Gottesman, who heads Edison Properties, gave Quinn $500. While not Donald Trump, he's a developer of luxury apartments (The Ludlow at 188 Ludlow St.) and renovated Class A office towers (The Hippodrome at 1120 Avenue of the Americas). Many of the new luxury buildings can directly or indirectly displace long-term neighborhood residents. Ian Tattenbaum, a commercial real estate attorney, gave Quinn $100. Margaret Brown of the developer trade group Association for a Better New York, gave her $50. Michael Ratner of the Ratner/Forest City family: $125. Of course it's his relative Bruce Ratner who is pushing Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn that promises to displace residents and tenants.

Brenda Levin, who as Ruth Messinger's City Planning Commissioner, showed concern over many Giuliani development schemes. But Levin was hired by Dan Doctoroff and NYC2012 (the Jets stadium and Olympic Bid) in order to "soften up" the community for the Hudson Yards project of 24 million square feet of office towers. She gave Quinn $100. And as we know, Quinn later supported bulldozing the West Side for all these Bloomberg/Doctoroff office towers.

Then there are the Rubensteins, Howard ($500) and Steven ($1,000). Rubenstein Associates is the Public Relations firm preferred by NYC's top developers. Reporters prefer them as well as it's one-stop shopping and they don't have to do any work to get a quote.

Stuart Beckerman, a land use lawyer, gave Quinn $100. William Gottlieb Real Estate: $1100. Paul Travis of Washington Square Partners: $300, Joy Tomchin of Vanguard Investors (real estate development and investment): $250.

And so it adds up.

But the one Christine Quinn contribution that is so telling is that of Eileen O'Toole, a well-known landlord lawyer from the notorious landlord law firm Kossoff Alper & Unger. She gave Quinn $100 in August 1998, many months before Quinn lied to many of those who would vote for her in February 1999. It seems that Ms. O'Toole makes her living by evicting and displacing tenants. Now Christine Quinn does that as well. That was seed money.

Of course some of these smaller contributions aren't consequential by themselves. Some (usually the politician) will dismiss the suggestion that a $100 or $250 contribution could buy access or sway an elected official's position on an issue. And perhaps they're right. But as we shall see with Christine Quinn, those small contributions -- aside from an out-and-out lie from Quinn -- will lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by Quinn in the last few years in pursuit of greed and ambition. Like cigarettes; it starts with one.