Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi has used cash from his Congressional campaign committee to pay himself $37,860 in rent since January 2020.
On Jan. 2, 2020, the three-term Democrat dropped $19,500 on “office rent” to a company called Ruvo Realty LLC. Another $18,360 rent payment was made on Jan. 19, 2021, FEC records show.
The payments work out to $1,625 a month in 2020 and $1,530 in 2021.
In his 2019 financial disclosure report, Suozzi revealed he was the sole owner of Ruvo Realty, an asset he valued at between $100,000 to $250,000. The report further says that the company began renting office space on Jan. 1, 2020.
Ruvo Realty’s sole asset is a single unit in the 3 School St. Professional Condo office building in Glen Cove. The company was expressly set up for the purpose of housing a Suozzi campaign office there, where staffers regularly work, a Suozzi spokeswoman said.
A sign on the door for unit 305 gives no indication of its affiliation with the Congressman beyond a small white placard bearing the letters TRS — Thomas Richard Suozzi’s initials. The lights were off and there was no answer from inside when The Post paid a visit Thursday.
Suozzi’s company takes its name from Ruvo del Monte, a small Italian town where the lawmaker’s father was born.
Political observers said the arrangement was “unseemly,” but likely legal, so long as the rent is not inflated. Suozzi’s campaign provided documents showing it was paying market rate.
“It’s absolutely not good. You shouldn’t use running for office or serving in office to enrich yourself in any form. Trump was a master of this,” Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist, told The Post. When he was a candidate for president, Trump famously milked his campaign for a profit, quadrupling the office rent in Trump Tower.
“If you actually have set up a campaign group or headquarters or something where it’s really closely related to the campaign, it’s not [illegal],” Ann Ravel, a former chairwoman of the FEC, told The Post, adding that she still found it to be “terribly unseemly” and said she would like to see the rules changed to prevent pols from padding their salaries.
“Lots of things are legal that aren’t right,” Sabato said.
Kim Devlin, a Suozzi political advisor, defended the arrangement: “This is much ado about nothing. This is a straightforward transaction pre-approved by ethics attorneys and fully disclosed. The campaign office lease is below fair market value and fully compliant.”
Suozzi, like the rest of his House colleagues, will face voters again in 2022 and his campaign committee remains active.