Cuomo’s Backing of Letitia James for AG Doing Little to Move Needle

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is backing Letitia James for attorney general, even if people who are business leaders aren’t ready to throw their support behind anyone just quite yet.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is backing Letitia James for attorney general, even if people who are business leaders aren’t ready to throw their support behind anyone just quite yet.

At the moment, James appears to be the frontrunner because she has Cuomo’s support along with the support of the state Democratic party. She looks to replace Eric Schneiderman, who was ousted by a series of disturbing abuse allegations. She’ll need the support of business leaders if she wants to try cementing her frontrunner position for the state attorney general.

“The attorney general sets the business climate in the state,” Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City said.

Industry leaders consulted by Crain’s aren’t so sold on James. They don’t like her liberal voting record and how she has worked closely with organized labor forces. Some people pointed to her lack of experience as a reason for her being unfit for the position.

Crain’s describes one as having “contrasted James’ record as a political operative, assistant attorney general under Spitzer, City Council member and public advocate with the experience of one of her Democratic rivals, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. The congressman, who won his Hudson Valley seat in 2012, served as staff secretary under President Bill Clinton and was first deputy secretary to Spitzer during his time as governor.”

Another source spoke warmly about candidate Leecia Eve from a Buffalo Democratic family. Crain’s reported that “Cuomo appointed Eve senior vice president of the Empire State Development Corp. shortly after entering office in 2011, then months later promoted her to deputy secretary for economic development before making her a Port Authority commissioner last year.”

The Jewish Voice recently reported on James and her apparent hypocritical actions in speaking out against real estate while benefiting from it personally. The real estate industry has donated at least $213,655 to James’ attorney general bid since May, a New York Post review of state campaign filings shows, making up almost 20 percent of her $1.16 million total though mid-July.

Sixteen limited liability companies in real estate gave $64,500, including an LLC under big city developer Two Trees. Donors linked to real estate firm and film studio developer Steiner NYC have given $15,100, The New York Post reports.

The wife of real estate mogul Gary Barnett gave $10,000. His company, Extell Development, sued the state attorney general’s office in 2010 after then-AG Andrew Cuomo said it had to allow condo buyers out of their contracts, according to The New York Post.

Spokeswoman Delaney Kempner said James is supported by a “broad spectrum of New Yorkers” because they know she’ll fight for them.

James also received $369,815 from unions and other labor interests, and at least $80,650 from the construction industry. Lawyers and law firms put up at least $78,225, according to The New York Post.

By: Lisa Parkins

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