Former Citi exec Ray McGuire relies on deep business ties to raise big money for NYC mayoral run

Ray McGuire and his allies in New York tapped into their deep-pocketed fundraising networks to help raise over $5 million for the former Citigroup executive’s mayoral campaign.

McGuire, who launched his campaign for mayor of New York in December, turned to a group of associates who have known him and several of his allies for years, according to people familiar with the matter.

His fundraising success gives him a war chest that will help him compete with other contenders in a large Democratic primary. Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang announced his run for mayor on Thursday.

“Once we called someone we would say, ‘Even though you donated, we know you know more people than just me and Ray,’ and they got their networks going,” Charles Phillips, former CEO of software company Infor and a chairman of the campaign, told CNBC on Wednesday.

Jon Henes, a partner and corporate restructuring attorney at law firm Kirkland & Ellis, and Laurie Tisch, a philanthropist and a member of the wealthy Tisch family, are two finance co-chairs for the McGuire campaign, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. This person declined to be named as this had yet to be made public.

Tisch, a co-owner of the New York Giants, confirmed to CNBC that she is a finance chair for McGuire’s campaign and has known the Wall Street executive for over 25 years. The two first met while serving on the board of the Whitney Museum, she noted.

Close friends of McGuire’s encouraged him over several months to jump into the race, Tisch said.

“I think it was probably a full year where his friends and people who know him kind of said, it was kind of a throw away line of ‘why don’t you run for mayor,’ Tisch said.

Henes was Sen. Kamala Harris’ national finance chair when she ran for president during the 2020 Democratic primary. Harris went on to become President-elect Joe Biden’s running mate and will become vice president in six days. Henes was also one of former South Carolina Senate candidate Jaime Harrison’s premier bundlers. Harrison, who raised tens of millions of dollars in his ultimately losing bid, is in line to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Multiple members of the Tisch family, which controls the conglomerate Loews Corp. and co-owns the New York Giants, gave the max check of $5,100 to McGuire’s campaign, according to a list of contributions from the McGuire team. Henes also gave the max amount.

The campaign also partially relied on virtual fundraising events featuring other luminaries, such as Mike Kempner, the CEO of public relations juggernaut MWWPR; Charles Myers, the former vice chair of investment firm Evercore; Fred Terrell, a former executive vice chairman at Credit Suisse; Alexis McGill Johnson, the CEO of Planned Parenthood, and Loretta Lynch, the former U.S. attorney general under President Barack Obama.

Kempner and Lynch, who is currently a partner at legal giant Paul Weiss, gave the campaign $5,100. Brad Karp, the chairman of the firm, gave the same amount.

McGuire’s campaign also had fundraising success at a recent virtual event featuring over 300 artists titled Arts for Ray, Tisch said. The event included leaders of the Whitney Museum and members of the group Freestyle Love Supreme, an improvisational hip-hop comedy club started by Lin-Manuel Miranda, she added.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Spike Lee gave $5,100 to McGuire’s campaign. Lee narrated McGuire’s launch video.

This person noted that some of the upcoming virtual events are going to be hosted by former Bain Capital executive and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Bill Ackman, the CEO of investment firm Pershing Square Capital. Ackman was one of McGuire’s top donors. This person declined to be named as the upcoming events had yet to be reported.

His pitch to donors and supporters alike, Phillips added, includes how he wants to improve the city’s public education system, policing and economy if he were to become mayor.

Ken Langone, a co-founder of Home Depot and longtime investor who also contributed to McGuire’s campaign, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” about his conversation with the former Citi vice chairman and that his proposal on public education wowed him.

“I met Ray. I’ve had a chance to visit with him. I like what he’s talking about doing. I’m especially excited about how he feels about public education,” Langone said.

As for policing, McGuire previously told CNBC that the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers was “cold-blooded murder.” He called on corporate leaders to combat racism.

McGuire’s connections in the political world have been pitching in, too.

One of his associates noted the assistance of Valerie Jarrett, a longtime close advisor to former President Barack Obama. Jarrett, as CNBC reported in October, was in line to be a co-chair of the McGuire campaign. She has become an influential advisor to McGuire on messaging, among other items, this person said.

According to this person, Jarrett has been advising McGuire: “Do you. Be you. Don’t be something else. Let the voters get to know you.”

McGuire is also set to unveil a small business relief proposal that could help businesses struggling in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The plan, which is set to be released in the coming weeks, will also include the concepts of how the city could pay for the proposal, this person noted.

At a recent forum at the Upper East Side Democratic Club, McGuire gave a preview of what his small business plan will look like, according to a transcript of his remarks provided by the campaign.

“I have a plan to save these small businesses, and it starts with immediate financial relief. That includes providing one-time job subsidies to help them hire or re-hire New Yorkers, extending the eviction moratorium while we work with small landlords to reduce or forgive back rent, allowing many small businesses to keep the most recent sales tax revenue they’ve collected, eliminating permit renewal payments for a year, just to name a few,” McGuire said.

According to McGuire’s recent address, the plan will include the following provisions:

  • Bringing private investment to community banks to get capital to new businesses
  • A “one-stop” online application for small businesses
  • Pairing owners with a small business contact for support
  • A small business advocate to force agencies to cut red tape
  • A “shot clock” to coax agencies to approve permits
  • Leniency for owners to fix violations without paying a fine

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