Wall Street heavyweights have found a new way to pander to Rep. Carolyn Maloney — donate to her pet project, a panda bear charity.
Two years ago, the congresswoman and her fat-cat friends kickstarted a quest to bring a pair of pandas to the city.
After wrangling the support of Mayor de Blasio and the Wildlife Conservation Society, she helped grocery guru John Catsimatidis, ex-American International Group head Maurice Greenberg and TV host Yue-Sai Kan start the nonprofit The Pandas Are Coming to NYC.
The charity’s goal is to raise $50 million to support the pandas and to cover the cost of their habitat at the Central Park Zoo.
Some of the biggest donors to the cuddly cause also contributed handsomely to Maloney’s campaigns — and had business before the House’s Financial Services Committee, which Maloney sits on.
Bank of America and PNC Bank each donated at least $25,000 to become “Bamboo-level” sponsors of its Feb. 8, 2017, Black and White Panda Ball, records show.
Catsimatidis, Greenberg and Kan are official directors of the nonprofit. But Maloney was one of the hosts of the gala event, according to the charity’s website.
Maloney is up for re-election in the fall.
The Upper East Side Democrat’s campaign said she has long been an advocate for bringing pandas to the city for residents to enjoy — and that she has supported other charities.
Campaign finance records show Bank of America’s political action committee has given Maloney’s campaign $39,000 since 2003, including $2,500 in 2017. It also donated $5,000 to Maloney’s own PAC on Dec. 20.
PNC Bank’s PACs have donated $5,500 to her since 2012.
The two banks have spent millions lobbying Congress on pro-bank bills, including ones coming out of Maloney’s Financial Services Committee.
Maloney’s campaign objected to any insinuations that contributions to the charity affected her official duties, pointing to her consistent voting record against the interest of those Wall Street donors.
“You’d have to search long and hard to find a leader with a stronger record of standing up to credit card companies and banks on behalf of consumers,” the campaign said.
Maloney’s panda pals Catsimatidis and Greenberg have also given her campaign a boost.
Catsimatidis and his wife have given $94,200 to her campaign and PAC since 1994.
Meanwhile, the PAC for Greenberg’s company, Starr Insurance Holdings, donated $5,000 to her campaign in 2017.
Greenberg recently told the New York Times that he has declared war on the Martin Act, which gives the New York state Attorney General broad reach in securities fraud probes.
The act prompted a 2005 probe of AIG. As a result, Greenberg was ousted from AIG and recently agreed to pay a $9 million civil settlement.
Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) introduced legislation in Congress in February to curb the act. However, Maloney’s campaign said she opposes any changes to the act.