Wall Street pours millions into NYC mayor race, with Adams and Yang getting the biggest boost

Key Points
  • Wall Street has poured more than $9 million into groups backing candidates in the New York mayoral race, with Eric Adams and Andrew Yang getting the biggest support.
  • Top Yang supporters include former Trump White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci.
  • Mets owner Steve Cohen has given to both pro-Adams and pro-Yang groups.
Mayoral candidates Eric Adams (L) and Andrew Yang
Getty Images

Wall Street leaders have poured more than $9 million into groups supporting candidates in the race for New York's next mayor, with most of the big money getting behind former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

CNBC reviewed records of donations from leaders on Wall Street who contributed to organizations supporting New York's Democratic mayoral candidates.

A super PAC supporting Adams has received more than $4 million from executives in the finance sector, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board. Two pro-Yang groups, a super PAC and a separate 527 group, received over $3 million combined from financial executives.

Wall Street executives gave more than $2 million to a super PAC backing one of their former colleagues, ex-Citigroup executive Ray McGuire.

The winner of the race's Democratic primary, which is a little more than a week away, on June 22, will be favored to win the general election in November.

The big money donations demonstrate how important the race is to Wall Street.

"Financial institutions have a large human and monetary capital invested in New York," said longtime New York Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, who noted that the city could be stuck with a $12 billion budget gap as Mayor Bill de Blasio's tenure comes to a conclusion.

"The Street needs its winner and access to City Hall," Sheinkopf said.

Super PACs can raise and spend an unlimited amount of money for their preferred candidates, giving contenders a massive financial boost during their campaigns with much of the funds going toward additional advertisements.

A spokesman for Adams told CNBC that the campaign is not affiliated with the super PAC and declined to comment on who has given to the organization.

"Eric has received broad support to become the next mayor of New York from across the economic and demographic spectrum because of his inclusive, bold vision for the city," Evan Thies, a spokesman for the Adams campaign, said in an email Monday.

Representatives for Yang and McGuire did not return requests for comment before publication

The primaries for both the Democratic and Republican mayoral races take place next week, with early voting already underway.

A new WNBC/Telemundo 47/Politico/Marist poll shows Adams with a 7-point lead over former city sanitation chief Kathryn Garcia. Progressive attorney and activist Maya Wiley and Yang are behind the top two contenders in that survey. McGuire sits at sixth with 13% of participants still undecided.

The pro-Adams super PAC, called Strong Leadership NYC, has seen contributions from a wide variety of Wall Street executives, including $1.5 million from Steve Cohen, who owns the New York Mets and runs Point72 Asset Management.

Other top donors from Wall Street to that PAC include $1 million from Dan Loeb, a founder of hedge fund Third Point; $750,000 from Ken Griffin, CEO of investment firm Citadel; $500,000 from longtime investor Stanley Druckenmiller; and $500,000 from Paul Tudor Jones, founder of Tudor Investment.

Cohen, Loeb and Griffin also gave six-figure checks to a pro-Yang super PAC called the Comeback PAC. City campaign finance records show that the Yang PAC saw other big donations from the finance sector.

Anthony Scaramucci, who had a short stint as former President Donald Trump's communications director and currently runs investment firm SkyBridge Capital, contributed $15,000 to the pro-Yang PAC. Peng Zhao, CEO of Citadel Securities, gave $250,000 to the Comeback PAC, and investor Jeffrey Yass, co-founder of Susquehanna International Trading Group, gave $500,000 to the PAC.

Loeb, Griffin and Yass combined to contribute $100 million to support federal candidates during the 2020 election cycle, with most going toward Republican causes, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

McGuire came into the race with many expecting the Wall Street money to largely flow toward his candidacy after his tenure at Citigroup.

The two founders of investment firm Perella Weinberg Partners combined to give $150,000 to the pro-McGuire super PAC, New York for Ray. Ricky Sandler, CEO of Eminence Capital, gave $200,000 to the super PAC, while Pershing Square founder and CEO Bill Ackman contributed $250,000. John Mack, former CEO of Morgan Stanley, gave $45,000 to the PAC.