At the center of Hillary Clinton’s fundraising trip through Massachusetts is a Thursday evening visit to longtime Clinton donors Elaine and Gerald Schuster.
Not only are they hosting Clinton, they also introduced her to the host of the campaign’s lunchtime fundraiser Bryan Rafanelli, who planned Chelsea Clinton’s wedding for $175,000 and managed multiple events for Clinton’s State Department.
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The Schuster family is one of 12 families that has donated money to every Clinton endeavor since 1992—including all national campaigns, the super PACs, and the Clinton Foundation for a total of at least $1,273,400 as of last year.
The couple’s wealth is from their real estate firm, the Continental Wingate Company, which was the recipient of "federal subsidies, tax breaks and low-interest loans" during the Clinton administration for its work rehabilitating old buildings in Massachusetts and New York City.
The firm ran into trouble in 1999 when it was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for misappropriating $1.4 million that was intended for the rehabilitation of a dilapidated South Bronx housing complex.
According to the HUD inspector general’s report, Schuster siphoned off the $1.4 million and used it to pay off unrelated loans and make further investments.
In 1996, Continental defaulted on six of eight mortgages for Beekman Houses and HUD was forced to take control of the complex and pay off $27.4 million in loan debt.
When HUD took control, 80 percent of the units in the complex failed to meet health standards and needed serious repairs, according to an earlier 1997 HUD report that called the deal with Continental a "poor deal for HUD and the taxpayers" and noted "The plan rewards a landlord who may bear responsibility for the deplorable conditions of the projects."
The conditions at Beekman were called into question long before that.
As a member of the New York State Assembly, Chuck Schumer called into question how the owner of Beekman received so much federal money without improving living conditions.
"How was it possible for the Federal Government to spend $20 million on these houses and still have them remain such horrible slums?" asked Schumer during an investigative hearing in the 1970s that failed to produce action.
$20 million of state-sponsored insurance was cancelled at Beekman in 1981 because Continental failed to comply with New York City's building code and federal requirements
Throughout all of this, the Schusters remained friends with the Clintons.
As president in 1998, Bill Clinton attended a fundraiser at the Schusters’ Boston home.
Elaine Schuster was a board member at the Clinton Foundation, and also served as a member of President Clinton’s advisory committee on the arts for his entire term. Gerald Schuster is a trustee of the Clinton Library Foundation.
The Clinton campaign did not return a request for comment on the Schusters’ history with the Beekman Houses.