NORWALK, Conn. — A mysterious set of big contributors to Mayor Harry Rilling’s re-election campaign have connections to the “BJ’s site,” an Internet search shows. Many, perhaps all, have ties to Russia.
Public records indicate that six $1,000 contributors are connected to New York City Attorney Albert Feinstein, who, according to the Connecticut Secretary of State’s website, is the manager for Main Norwalk LLC, a developer looking to build a big box store at 272-280 Main Ave., known to many in Norwalk as “the BJ’s site.” Feinstein has an office in Moscow, according to his website.
Rilling had more than $100,000 in his campaign war chest at the end of this year’s first quarter, when an accounting was mandated by state law. The January-March filing showed more than 10 $1,000 contributors whose names raised eyebrows as they have no apparent connection to Norwalk, nor a history of donating to Norwalk mayoral campaigns.
NancyOnNorwalk received multiple inquiries about the contributors, questions about “mysterious” people.
Asked about this last month, Rilling referred inquiries to DNA campaigns and said his campaign arranges fundraisers. Many people are interested in Norwalk because of the activity going on, he said.
DNA campaign manager Patrick Romano did not return a Tuesday phone call. Rilling declined further comment.
NancyOnNorwalk called Feinstein’s New York office on Tuesday.
“We are not interested. Thank you,” the woman who answered the phone said.
NoN has previously run a list of Rilling’s contributors from the 2017 first quarter. Here is the list of $1,000 contributors again, with the “mysterious” names in bold:
- Veronika Ardemasova, a Greenwich real estate broker
- Zufar Faynshteyn, a Staten Island real estate investor
- Galina Feinstein, a Staten Island doctor, with the same address as Faynshteyn
- Joseph Fiorillo of Purchase, N.Y.
- Andy Frank, a Westport developer
- Samvel Gezalian of Brooklyn, an ice skating coach
- Halina Gezalian of Brooklyn
- William Gilmore, a Norwalker
- Anatoly Grinshteyn of Hewlett Harbor, N.Y., BWH Construction
- Svetlana Grinshteyn, his wife
- Paxton Kinol of Belpointe Capital, developer of the Waypointe apartments
- Regina Kudoyarova, a Greenwich housewife
- Phil Mendence, a Norwalker, Crystal Ice plant manager
- William McRae of Old Greenwich, an attorney
- Yelena McRae, his wife
- Alexander Merson of Greenwich, Advanced American Technical Group
- Irina Merson, his wife
- Robin Penna, a Norwalker, co-owner of A.J. Penna & Son
- Inna Post, a New York City self-employed real estate broker
- Abraham Post, a New York City real estate broker
- Stanley Seligson, Norwalk developer
- Yelena Sushko, Old Greenwich restauranteur
- Anthony Terenzio of New Canaan, City Carting partner
- Michael Varhisky, Greenwich trader
- Ella Weisbord of Richmond Hill, N.Y., IT project manager, National Grid
- Ilya Weisbord, Richmond Hill, NY, banker, Signature Bank
- Glib Zaslavsky, a New York City attorney
There was a previous campaign filing, for the last quarter of 2016. A list of $1,000 contributors:
- Evgeniy Ardimasova of Greenwich
- Jerry Crowley
- Bryan Dietz of Stamford, EMD/LLC real estate developer
- Ennio Dinino of Stamford
- Elena Feinstein of New York City, listed as Manhattan Property Group principal owner
- Paul Garavel of Garavel Auto Group
- Hariklia Gavrilidis
- Chris Gavrilidis
- Barry Goldberg of Wilton
- James Manafort of Plainville, Manafort Brothers Construction
- Richard McGonigal
- Nicolas Pichotta of Southport
- John Stafstrom of Bridgeport, an attorney with Pullman and Comley
Glib Zaslavsky donated $1,000 to the Rilling campaign, as listed above, on March 23.
A Google search does not turn up any listings under Glib Zaslavsky, but a Gleb Zaslavsky is a Feinstein & Partners PLLC associate, according to Zoom Info. NYS Attorney Search lists Glib Zaslavasky as Feinstein’s associate, while Gleb Zaslavasky’s LinkedIn page says he works at Feinstein & Partners.
Elena Feinstein, who contributed $1,000 on Nov. 22, is listed on the campaign form with the same East 66th St. address that Albert Feinstein lists on his Feinstein & Partners website.
A Google search for Zofar Faynshteyn turned up a MyLife listing for an Albert Faynshteyn, also known as Albert Feinstein.
Intelius, an Internet provider of public data about people, and WhitePages.com also say that Albert Feinstein is also known as Albert Faynshteyn.
WhitePages says that Feinstein has a Zufar Faynshteyn as a family member. Also listed as a family member is a Galina Feinstein.
A Galina Feinstein gave Rilling $1,000 on March 20. The New York City Finance Department provides a 2006 Power of Attorney document linking a Galina Feinstein, with a Staten Island address, with Albert Feinstein.
Intelius and White Pages both say Albert Feinstein has a business called bidonthecity.com. Put bidonthecity.com into a browser and you get Albert Feinstein Real Estate.
Brokers listed on Albert Feinstein Real Estate include Inna Post and Elena Lubarskaya.
Inna Post, as listed above, contributed $1,000 to Rilling, on March 20. Post has many relatives with the last name Pustilnik, according to Intelius.
Abraham Post, who is listed with the same address as Inna Post, contributed $1,000 to Rilling on March 21.
Veronika Ardemasova is listed on the campaign papers as working for Selana Lubarskaya. The Real Deal lists a Jelena Ljubarskaja as an associate broker with Feinstein.
Evgeniy Ardimasova, with the same address as Veronika Ardemasova, is listed by White Pages as being “linked by address” to Albert Feinstein (having shared an address with Feinstein).
Veronika Ardemasova’s contribution came on March 9. Evgeniy Ardimasova donated $1,000 on Nov. 22.
In recent years, election observers have become concerned about “political bundling.”
“Bundling is a form of political fundraising in which one person or a small group of people convince their friends, coworkers and other like-minded donors to write checks to a candidate for public office,” ThoughtCo reported in 2016.
“Bundling is a common practice and is, in fact, legal,” Attorney C. Simon Davidson wrote on RollCall in 2015. “…One of the reasons bundling can be important is because the law limits the amount of money an individual can contribute to a particular campaign.”
The maximum amount of money you can contribute to a Connecticut mayoral campaign is $1,000.
BJ’s Wholesale Club had sought to build a store at 272-280 Main Ave. in 2013, but a community outcry prompted the withdrawal of the application. Main Norwalk recently won Zoning approval for “The Village,” a big box store disguised by a street-friendly front. No tenant was named for the store.
When Rilling ran for mayor in 2013 he denounced the BJ’s Wholesale Club. Now, as mayor, Rilling is legally prohibited from involvement with Zoning decisions.
Public commentary on Zoning matters would provide grounds for a lawsuit.
The next campaign filing is due July 10.