“NY Rep. Eliot Engel still hasn’t repaid controversial ‘mortgage loan’”
June 2, 2020 | 3:04pm | Updated June 2, 2020 | 3:11pm
WASHINGTON — Veteran New York Rep. Eliot Engel still hasn’t repaid a $125,000 “mortgage loan” he received from real estate developer and top campaign contributor Harry Bajraktari nearly a decade ago, financial records show.
Bajraktari, a personal friend and top campaign contributor to the Bronx-Westchester Democrat who is facing a tough primary fight, extended the large line of credit in February 2011 which was classified as a “mortgage loan” for Engel’s primary residence in the Bronx, according to his personal financial disclosure statement.
But Engel’s Bronx home was paid in full at the time, according to the New York City deed, and as of last year, the money still hadn’t been paid back, records show.
Both Bajraktari and a spokesman for Engel did not respond to repeated requests for comment clarifying the nature of the loan and whether it had been paid back.
Engel’s office said it was approved by the House Ethics Committee. The committee declined to comment.
The 73-year-old congressman is facing a fierce primary battle from Jamaal Bowman, a 44-year-old former middle school principal backed by Justice Democrats — the same group which helped Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez topple Joe Crowley in 2018.
Political pundits fear Engel, one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress as the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is setting himself up to be the next Crowley, the longtime incumbent who was defeated by AOC in a stunning upset.
Engel, an 16-term congressman, came under fire over the mysterious loan from Bajraktari in 2012 when he refused to disclose the nature of the arrangement.
A spokesman told the Daily News in 2012 that the $125,000 was in fact a “personal loan” to help Engel purchase a co-op in the Bronx.
As of 2019, that debt was still recorded on Engel’s personal financial disclosure statement as a mortgage loan on his primary residence.
Bajraktari and his family have donated $91,900 to Engel’s campaigns since 1991, filings show.
The Democratic lawmaker has also been on five sponsored congressional trips valued at $18,163 with the National Albanian America Council, which Bajraktari helped co-found.
The pair, who a spokesman once described to The Post as “longtime personal friends,” also co-owned a Bronx building from 2008 to 2014 which had an illegal apartment in the basement, records show.
Multiple citations from the Building’s Department over the illegal dwelling went ignored over several years, according to reports.
Engel, first elected to Congress in 1989, failed to declare his 24 percent ownership stake in the building, as required on his financial disclosure form, for two years before questioning from the media.
Last month, it was revealed the powerful Democrat hadn’t set foot in his coronavirus-stricken district or the Empire State since March — the disappearing act revealed by The Atlantic leaving political strategists scratching their heads.
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