Gotham Gazette Sat, 22 Sep 2018 17:07:59 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb (Webmaster) Why is Governor Cuomo Returning Weinstein’s Money But Keeping Loeb’s? Cuomo announcement

Gov. Cuomo (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)

New York’s political world was rocked recently by revelations that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, a major donor to Governor Andrew Cuomo and other top New York Democrats, had a long and sordid history of predatory sexual harassment -- and possibly sexual assault -- of women.

Initially Gov. Cuomo balked at giving back the $111,400 in contributions he had received from Weinstein. But a few days later, after Mayor Bill de Blasio called on all elected officials to return Weinstein’s money and the New York State Republican Party called out Cuomo, the governor saw the wiser route and decided to donate Weinstein’s tainted cash to a to-be-named women’s organization.

Sexism is deplorable and should not be tolerated, and it certainly should not play any role in our political system. Gov. Cuomo did the right thing by reversing course and shedding Weinstein’s money. It sends a strong message that he will not sanction Weinstein’s behavior, and it is a message to all political donors that sexism will not be tolerated.

However, we are confused. While Gov. Cuomo is sending a clear message that sexism is unacceptable, he has refused to send the same message about racism. Recently Daniel Loeb, a hedge fund manager and investor in privately-run charter schools who has given Cuomo $170,000, continued a pattern of behavior with an outrageously racist Facebook post. Loeb asserted that State Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the highest ranking African-American female elected official in New York State history, had done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood” -- an unmistakable reference comparing Stewart-Cousins to the Ku Klux Klan.

Loeb’s racism doesn’t stop there. In 2006 Loeb also called Prem Watsa, a Canadian corporate leader who is of Indian descent, a “shvartze,” a Yiddish term for African-American that equates to the n-word. Loeb has also sought to profit off of Puerto Rico’s debt and drive up prescription drug prices. And as board chair of Success Academy, he has supported excessively punitive and rigid disciplinary practices and suspensions meant to force struggling African-American and Latino students out of Success schools. Such zero tolerance behavioral policies have been shown to put students on track for the school-to-prison pipeline.

Despite Loeb’s documented history of racism and support of racist policies, Gov. Cuomo refuses to return campaign contributions from the wealthy financier. In contrast, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer immediately shed a $4,500 contribution he had received from Loeb once the recent Facebook post became public.

Regarding the Weinstein incident, Gov. Cuomo stated, "I have three daughters. I want to make sure that at the end of the day, this world is a safer, better world for my three daughters." We wholeheartedly agree with that, but African-Americans and other people of color have daughters and sons as well, and they merit protection from racists like Daniel Loeb, who clearly showed his belief that he is superior to Senator Stewart-Cousins and that he knows what is better for children of color than she does. In New York State we will not accept a double standard under which sexist political donors are treated as toxic in political circles, but money from racist political donors is condoned.

Sadly, we are living in a time when the president has made racism a mantra and has emboldened violent white supremacists to openly assault opponents of racism. We applaud Gov. Cuomo for making clear that Harvey Weinstein’s sexist money is unwelcome in New York politics. Gov. Cuomo’s hesitation to return Loeb’s tainted money is deeply concerning and offensive. We need him to forcefully and definitively repudiate Daniel Loeb’s racism. No more excuses, it is time for the governor to give back Loeb’s contributions, like he’s doing with Weinstein’s.

Gov. Cuomo recently described racism as “the greatest threat this country faces” - so there should be no problem treating racism with the same firm hand as sexism. If the governor decides to keep Loeb’s money, he is sanctioning racism, just as returning Weinstein’s money was a clear repudiation of sexism.

by Zakiyah Ansari and Carmen Perez. Ansari is advocacy director for the Alliance for Quality Education and Perez is executive director of Gathering for Justice and co-chair of the Women’s March.

Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email

Why is Governor Cuomo Returning Weinstein’s Money But Keeping Loeb’s? Sun, 29 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000
Malliotakis Received Max Contribution from Dan Loeb malliotakis handshake crop

Nicole Malliotakis (photo: @NMalliotakis)

Daniel Loeb, the investor, political donor, and charter school network leader who has found himself embroiled in controversy after racially charged remarks about State Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, donated the maximum allowable contribution of $4,950 to the campaign of presumptive Republican mayoral nominee Nicole Malliotakis.

The brash board chair of the Success Academy Charter Schools Network and CEO of the Third Point hedge fund said in a Thursday Facebook post that Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat from Westchester who is African-American, had done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood,” in apparent reference to her anti-charter school position on public school education and the KKK, and in response to a reported exchange between Stewart-Cousins and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The post, first reported by The New York Times, was taken down and Loeb issued an apology, saying, "I regret the language I used in expressing my passion for educational choice," but that didn’t stop Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray from calling for Loeb’s resignation from Success, the city’s largest and most controversial charter school chain, in separate tweets posted Friday.

“Charter schools are in fact public schools. No public school leader would get to keep their job after a comment like Loeb's. Time to go, Dan,” was posted from the mayor’s official account. De Blasio has been a frequent critic of charter schools and has had an especially contentious relationship with Success Academy and its founder and CEO, Eva Moskowitz.

There has also been loud and swift criticism of Loeb’s remark by other Democratic elected officials and activists, among others. Many have called on those who have received Loeb contributions to return them, especially Governor Andrew Cuomo, to whom Loeb has directly donated over $110,000 since 2007

Statements of condemnation have also come from some of Loeb’s allies, including Cuomo, Success’ Moskowitz, and Jenny Sedlis, the executive director of pro-charter group StudentsFirstNY, where Loeb sits on the board.

In addition to his donations to the governor, Loeb has been a substantial donor to state Senate Republicans and the Senate Independent Democratic Conference, as well as congressional Democrats, giving over $100,000 to the Democratic congressional and senatorial campaign committees and thousands more to individual candidates, including Congressional Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Virginia Senator Mark Warner.

dan loeb via third point cropLoeb (pictured) gave Malliotakis, de Blasio’s presumed general election opponent, the max $4,950 contribution on August 4, and does not appear to have given any other direct donations to New York City candidates in the 2017 cycle, nor has he bundled donations. In the 2013 election cycle, he contributed to then-mayoral candidate Christine Quinn and current Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Charter schools – privately run public schools largely funded through public monies – have been contentious within politics since their creation. Malliotakis has made statements in support of expanding charters, while de Blasio has been a frequent antagonist and target of charters, though he has made some peace of late. Still, de Blasio is often at odds with the sector and its backers over granting charter schools space in public buildings. Part of his recent deal with the state Legislature to extend mayoral control of city schools included significant concessions to charter schools.

Success Academy enrolls over 15,000 students. Moskowitz, the CEO, is a former City Council member and frequent de Blasio critic who has considered running for mayor herself.

Reached by phone, Malliotakis campaign spokesperson Rob Ryan said, “We are glad Dan Loeb apologized for what he said, and Assemblywoman Malliotakis agrees with Saturday’s New York Post editorial on the matter.” The editorial agreed that Loeb’s language was inappropriate but asserted that otherwise his stance on charter schools and Albany Democrats like Sen. Stewart-Cousins was correct. Charter school supporters, like Loeb and the Post editorial board, often argue that Democrats who oppose charter schools (and are allied with teachers unions) are doing so to the detriment of students, especially children of color, who are more likely to attend subpar district schools.

The Malliotakis campaign will be keeping the donation.

[Update: de Blasio campaign spokesperson Dan Levitan emailed Gotham Gazette responding to a request for comment, saying, “Her biggest supporters are the billionaires behind Trump and Breitbart news and the guy who thinks standing up for public schools is worse than the KKK. These are things all New Yorkers should reject."]

by Felipe De La Hoz, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Malliotakis Received Max Contribution from Dan Loeb Sat, 12 Aug 2017 04:00:00 +0000