Knicks’ Dolan Dynasty Goes All-In For NYC’s Only Republican Rep, Nicole Malliotakis
In 2022, members of the family that owns Madison Square Garden and its sports teams gave more than $20,000 in campaign contributions to the Staten Island-based congresswoman who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s election.
The Dolan dynasty is again bankrolling pro-Trump GOP U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis’ campaign in her rematch this year against Democrat Max Rose, who she unseated in 2020.
According to federal campaign finance records, Knicks owner James Dolan has given $8,700 so far this year to the campaign of the right-wing Staten Island and South Brooklyn congresswoman, who has sponsored anti-Black Lives Matter legislation and who joined 146 fellow Republicans in voting against certifying President Joe Biden’s election on Jan. 6, 2021, hours after a mob invaded the U.S. Capitol.
Last month, Dolan’s wife, Kristin, and father, Charles — both board members of the Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. (MSGE) — also each gave $5,800 to the Malliotakis campaign.
The Rose camp called the Dolan money a sign of his Republican rival’s weakness. “With Republicans like Nicole Malliotakis losing House seats all over the country because of their extreme views on abortion, it’s no shock that big money supporters are coming in to try and prop up their campaigns,” said Carl Sanford, Rose’s campaign manager. “Max Rose is focused on talking to voters on the issues that matter to them and not whoever James Dolan is donating to — but he does still think he should sell the Knicks.”
Malliotakis’ campaign and office did not respond to requests for comment.
Spokespeople for MSGE did not respond to specific questions about the reasons the Dolans, who control most of the corporation’s voting shares, are supporting Malliotakis but did point THE CITY to a news story about Rose insulting the Knicks’ owner in 2020.
The Dolans weren’t involved when Max Rose first won New York’s 11th District congressional seat in 2018, miles away from the Garden. But that changed in 2020 when Malliotokis, then a state lawmaker, ran against Rose. The congressman had publicly criticized James Dolan’s stewardship of the team that went from a perennial title contender in the 1990s to one of the worst franchises in the league on his watch.
“Dolan’s just got to sell,” Rose told TMZ that September. “Drives the team into the ground, man! It’s disgraceful.”
Dolan for Dollars
Dolan then worked behind the scenes to fundraise for Malliotakis. In an email obtained by the New York Post, the owner begged his friends to donate to the Republican challenger.
“It will help send a strong message to all NY politicians that the Knicks will not be their political ticket to reelection. The most you can donate is $2,800,” Dolan wrote, according to the Post. “I cannot do this alone due to the limit on campaign contributions.”
In addition to asking his friends to chip in, that year Dolan’s MSG Sports also gave $50,000 to a PAC dedicated to helping the GOP win back the House of Representatives, the Post reported, with a source telling the paper that the money came after “Dolan got pissed off at Max Rose because he said something about the Knicks being a sh–ty team and then Dolan turned around and wrote a $50,000 check…”
The federal contributions are hardly the only incursions into New York politics for Dolan, who switched his voter affiliation from Republican to Democrat in 2021 and donated that year to Democratic mayoral candidates Ray McGuire, Shaun Donovan and Eric Adams.
Earlier this year, nearly 40% of the $1.7 million poured into state Senate races by independent expenditure committees in July came from the Dolan-backed Coalition to Restore New York.
The group paid for mailers with images of burning police cars and hooded men robbing stores in an effort to convince primary voters to support centrist Democrats across the state. (In August’s low-turnout primaries, most New York City state senate incumbents, including those supported by the Coalition to Restore New York, won regardless of whether they belonged to the party’s centrist or left flank. )
State legislative affairs are of particular importance to the Dolan family, which has long enjoyed an enormous tax break exempting the Garden from city taxes. Since 1982, when the state legislature passed the exemption, the arena has dodged more than $800 million in taxes, a 2021 estimate by New York City’s Independent Budget Office found.