Letitia James – NY

Letitia James

Summary

Current Position: Attorney General since 2019
Affiliation: Democrat

Featured VideoLetitia James on biggest battles as New York’s attorney general

Letitia “Tish” James is the 67th Attorney General for the state of New York. With decades of experience and a long record of achievements, she is a powerful, effective attorney and lifelong public servant. When she was elected in 2018, she became the first woman of color to hold statewide office in New York and the first woman to be elected Attorney General.

OnAir Post: Letitia James – NY

News

A.G. James’ Nursing Home Neglect Suit
ABC, Aaron KaterskyJune 28, 2023

The owners, operators and landlords of four nursing homes in New York for years misused more than $83 million in taxpayer money, leaving elderly people in their care dead, neglected or humiliated by sitting in their own urine and feces, New York Attorney General Letitia James said Wednesday in a new lawsuit.

The lawsuit accuses the executives and the corporations behind nursing homes in the Bronx, Queens, Westchester and Buffalo of enriching themselves by diverting Medicare and Medicaid funds away from residential care.

The nursing homes, owned and operated by Centers Health Care, include Beth Abraham Center in the Bronx, Buffalo Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, Holliswood Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Queens, and Martine Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Westchester County. Residents at these facilities suffered from severe dehydration, malnutrition, and increased risk of death, developed infections and sepsis from untreated bed sores and inconsistent wound care, sustained life-changing injuries from falls, and died, the lawsuit said.

NY A.G.’s Biggest Battles
CBS New YorkJune 4, 2023 (18:36)

As New York’s 67th attorney general, Letitia James filed sexual harassment charges against then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and brought civil fraud charges against former President Donald Trump.

Attorney General’s Inaugural Speech
CBS New YorkJanuary 1, 2019 (07:40)

James is the first African American woman to hold statewide office. Here’s a look at her inauguration speech at Ellis Island in its entirety.

About

Source: Government page

In her first term, Attorney General James focused on protecting vulnerable New York residents and ensuring that individuals or companies that broke state laws were held accountable. She secured more than $7.5 billion for New York from those who broke state laws and took advantage of New Yorkers, including more than $2.5 billion from opioid manufacturers and distributors for their roles in the opioid epidemic. Under her leadership, the Office of the New York State Attorney General helped remove more than 4,000 guns from New York communities, took down dozens of dangerous drug and gun trafficking rings throughout the state, and took legal action to stop the proliferation of ghost guns.

Attorney General James took on predatory landlords who harassed tenants and endangered children by violating New York’s lead paint laws. She protected New Yorkers’ health and the state’s natural resources by going after polluters and companies that flouted environmental protection laws. Attorney General James stood up for vulnerable populations by going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to stop a question about citizenship from being added to the census and successfully protecting DACA.

She has been a national leader in the fight to defend access to reproductive health care, leading dozens of legal actions across the country to protect and expand access to this lifesaving care. Attorney General James also stood up against corruption and took strong action against officials who broke New York laws or workplace protection measure, regardless of their status or political affiliation.

Before serving as Attorney General, Letitia James was the public advocate for the City of New York. When she was elected in 2013, she became the first woman of color to hold citywide office. During her tenure as public advocate, her office passed more legislation than all previous public advocates combined, including a groundbreaking law that banned questions about salary history from the employment process to address the pervasive gender wage gap. Prior to serving as public advocate, Letitia James represented the 35th Council District in Brooklyn in the New York City Council for 10 years. As a council member, she passed the Safe Housing Act, legislation that forced landlords to improve living conditions for tenants in New York City’s worst buildings. Before her election to the City Council, Letitia James was head of the Brooklyn Regional Office of the New York State Attorney General’s Office.

Letitia James began her career as a public defender at the Legal Aid Society. A proud Brooklynite, she is a graduate of Lehman College and Howard University School of Law.

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Web Links

Wikipedia

Letitia Ann James (born October 18, 1958) is an American lawyer and politician serving since 2019 as the Attorney General of New York (NYAG), having won the 2018 election to succeed Barbara Underwood. A member of the Democratic Party, James is the first African American and first woman to be elected New York Attorney General.[1][2]

Born and raised in Brooklyn, James graduated from Lehman College in The Bronx before obtaining her Juris Doctor degree at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She worked as a public defender, then on staff in the New York State Assembly, and later as a New York State Assistant Attorney General in the Brooklyn regional office.

James served as a member of the New York City Council from 2004 to 2013. She represented the 35th district, which includes the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, parts of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Bedford–Stuyvesant. James chaired the committees on economic development and sanitation and served on several others. From 2013 to 2018, she was the New York City Public Advocate, making her the first African-American woman to be elected to and hold citywide office in New York City.[3]

James was briefly a candidate in the 2022 New York gubernatorial election, but suspended her campaign in December 2021, opting to instead run for reelection as Attorney General.

Early life and education

Letitia Ann James was born on October 18, 1958, in Brooklyn, New York.[4][5][6] She is one of eight children born to Nellie James (b. 1919, Martinsville, Virginia)[7] and Robert James.[8] She attended New York City public schools. Raised in Park Slope, Brooklyn, she attended Fort Hamilton High School in nearby Bay Ridge.[9] She received her Bachelor of Arts from the City University of New York's Lehman College in 1981, majoring in liberal arts with an emphasis in social work.[10][9]

James received her Juris Doctor degree from Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C. in 1987,[11] and was admitted to practice law in New York State in 1989.[12][13] As of 2013, James was enrolled at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) in the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan, where she was working towards a Master of Public Administration degree.[14]

Career

James served as a public defender for the Legal Aid Society[15] and established the Urban Network, a coalition of African-American professional organizations aimed at providing scholarships for inner city youth.[16][17]

She served on former New York Governor Mario Cuomo's Task Force on Diversity in the Judiciary. She served as counsel for Albert Vann, Chief of Staff for Roger L. Green in the New York State Assembly, and in the administration of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. She was appointed the first Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Brooklyn regional office in 1999. While working in that position, James worked in many capacities but notably focused on consumer complaints involving predatory lending and other unlawful business practices.[15]

2001 and 2003 city council races

James' first run for the 35th Council district was in November 2001. In a close race, James received 42% of the vote on the Working Families Party line but lost to James E. Davis, a Democrat. In July 2003, just months before the next election, Davis was assassinated by Othniel Askew, a former political rival. Following Davis's death, his brother Geoffrey ran for his vacant council seat on the Democratic Party ticket, but on election day, November 4, 2003, Geoffrey A. Davis lost by a large margin to James as the Working Families Party nominee.[18] In that 2003 race, James officially became a member of the Working Families Party, and was the first citywide office-holder to run solely on the WFP line.[19][20][21]

City council tenure

James speaking at City Hall, 2008

James is the first member of the Working Families Party to win office in New York State, and the first third-party member to be elected to the city council since 1977.[22] She has since changed back to the Democratic party.[19]

James again won the Working Families and the Democratic parties' nominations by a large margin over Samuel Eric Blackwell, an urban planner at Long Island University and pro-stadium advocate. She was re-elected on the Democratic line on November 8, 2005, with 88.11% of the vote, compared to 6.80% for Republican Anthony Herbert, and 5.08% for Independence Party candidate Charles B. Billups.[23]

On October 10, 2006, there was a devastating fire at the Broken Angel House, an architectural icon in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. The fire attracted attention from the New York City Department of Buildings, which resulted in citations being issued for numerous building code violations. James represented Broken Angel's owner, Arthur Wood, pro bono in his negotiations to keep his home. The agency decided to allow Wood to re-occupy Broken Angel provided the upper levels were taken down and the central stairwell reconstructed.[24]

James in the New York City Council in 2009

She was the first to question cost overruns and irregularities in the subcontracting work of the new CityTime payroll system much touted by Bloomberg which eventually led to several indictments, Bloomberg asking a tech giant for $600 million back, and two consultants fleeing the country in 2011.[25][26]

James originally advocated for the demolition of the Second Empire houses on Admiral's Row in order to build a parking lot for a proposed supermarket to serve residents in nearby housing developments, but later supported preserving some of the historic housing.[27] In 2008, James, with Bill de Blasio, advocated against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempts to seek a third term without a voter referendum.[28]

James won the Democratic primary in September 2009 against her opponents, community organizer Delia Hunley-Adossa,[29] who received more than $200,000 from Forest City Ratner[30] and Medhanie Estiphanos, a financial consultant.[30] James went on to win re-election for a second term.

In May 2013, with a group that included construction unions, community groups and other elected officials, she was a part of an Article 78 lawsuit against the Bloomberg administration and Acadia Realty Trust seeking the shut-down of the City Point real estate project and a reassessment of its environmental impact.[31]

In June 2016, James attempted to pressure six financial institutions, including BB&T, Berkshire Bank, Citizens Financial Group, People's United Bank, Regions Financial Corporation and TD Bank, into ending its practice of providing financial services to gun manufacturers.[32] BB&T was specifically requested to drop the accounts of SIG Sauer of New Hampshire, but denied the request.[33]

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Economic Development (chair)
  • Committee on Sanitation (chair)
  • Committee on Parks & Recreation
  • Committee on Small Business
  • Committee on Technology in Government
  • Committee on Veteran Affairs
  • Committee on Women's Issues[12][34]

Public Advocate

James at the 2018 NYC March For Our Lives rally

In 2013, James ran for New York City Public Advocate and received 36% of the vote in the first Democratic primary, under the 40% threshold that would have avoided a runoff election.[35] James won the runoff election on October 1, 2013, against Daniel Squadron, 59.4%–40.6%, becoming the party's nominee for the city's elected watchdog position in November.[36]

In the 2013 election campaign for Public Advocate, James was endorsed by many of the city's important labor unions, NOW, Planned Parenthood, Democracy for NYC, League of Conservation Voters, Amsterdam News and El Diario.[37] On October 1, 2013, James achieved a Democratic primary win in spite of her campaign fundraising trailing Daniel Squadron's and Reshma Saujani,[38] to become the Democratic Party's nominee for New York City's elected watchdog position. She was endorsed by third-place finisher Saujani in September[39] James won the Democratic runoff election.[35] Without a Republican opponent, she won the general election with over 83% of the vote.[40]

In 2017, James won the Democratic primary for her position with 77% of the vote, over closest competitor David Eisenbach's 23%.[41]

New York State Attorney General

2018 election

In May 2018, James, who initially planned to run for Mayor of New York City in 2021,[42] declared her candidacy for Attorney General of New York and won the Democratic primary on September 13, 2018, with 40.6% of the vote; she defeated Zephyr Teachout (31%) and two other candidates.[43][44] On November 6, 2018, she was elected Attorney General, defeating Republican Keith Wofford.[45] She made history by becoming the first woman and African American to be elected as attorney general in New York and serve in that role.[45] During her campaign, James vowed to pursue Donald Trump, who she said was an “illegitimate president” and an “embarrassment.”[46]

Tenure

James marching in June 2019 at Stonewall 50 – WorldPride NYC 2019

James was sworn in as attorney general on January 1, 2019, succeeding Barbara Underwood, who was first appointed after the resignation of Eric Schneiderman.[47]

Suit against All Faiths Cemetery

In September 2019, James filed suit against the officials of Queens's All Faiths Cemetery, alleging financial misconduct.[48]

State civil suit against the NRA

In August 2020, James filed a civil lawsuit in New York Supreme Court against the National Rifle Association of America (NRA), accusing the organization of corruption and financial misconduct, and calling for its dissolution.[49][50] The NRA filed a countersuit against James, citing statements she made during her 2018 campaign.[51] In February 2024, a lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General’s Office under James found that the NRA mismanaged charitable funds when it failed to stop top executives, including CEO Wayne LaPierre, from diverting millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts and other questionable expenditures. A jury found that LaPierre should pay the gun rights group $4.3 million in damages for mismanagement and misspending of charitable funds, having violated his fiduciary duties from 2014 to 2022. The panel also found the NRA’s former CFO Wilson Phillips should pay back $2 million for breaching his fiduciary duties as an executive. [52]

Investigation into state COVID-19 response

In early March 2020, the attorney general's office began to preliminarily "investigate allegations of COVID-19-related neglect of residents in nursing homes."[53] The office solicited and subsequently received 953 complaints from patients' families regarding neglect of patients through November 16. The probe released its first report on both the nursing homes and the state Department of Health (DOH) on January 28, 2021, where it concluded that the department's public data under-counted nursing home deaths by up to 50 percent.[54] The methodology of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) was to compare deaths from COVID reported to the DOH and such deaths reported to OAG. The OAG press release makes no mention of medical analysis of the cases.[54] James said investigations into 20 separate nursing homes "whose reported conduct during the first wave of the pandemic presented particular concern" would continue for the foreseeable future.[54] The report was heralded by some in Albany as a "declaration of independence" from New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo after a two-year alliance in opposition to President Donald Trump.[55]

Three weeks after the report, the Albany Times-Union revealed an ongoing joint investigation by the FBI and the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, examining how Governor Cuomo's coronavirus task force played a role in nursing homes' COVID-19 response.[56] On March 18, 2021, The City found that the FBI's scope included a last-minute addition to the state's 2020 budget that provided greater immunity to long-term care organizations.[57] The head of the Greater New York Hospital Association said in an August 2020 New York State Senate hearing that the lobbying group had provided a "draft" of "some ideas to be included" to the governor's office.[58]

Report on Andrew Cuomo sexual harassment

On August 3, 2021, James' office released a report finding that Cuomo engaged in multiple acts of sexual harassment.[59]

2022 Democratic primary for governor

On October 29, 2021, James stated her intention to run for the office of Governor of New York in the 2022 Democratic primary[60][61] but withdrew from the race in December, after consistently polling behind incumbent Governor Kathy Hochul, with James instead choosing to seek reelection as Attorney General.[62]

2022 election

After James launched her reelection bid, all previous Democratic candidates withdrew their candidacies and endorsed her.[63][64][65][66][67] On November 8, 2022, James was reelected Attorney General, defeating Republican Michael Henry in the general election.

NFL investigation

On May 4, 2023, James and her California counterpart Rob Bonta announced they would jointly investigate the National Football League over employment practices at its offices in New York City and Los Angeles, citing a report by The New York Times detailing complaints of harassment and discrimination made by former female staffers.[68]

2024 Trump lawsuit in New York

In 2022, in her capacity as New York Attorney General, James filed a civil lawsuit against the Trump Organization and worked alongside the Manhattan district attorney's office in its criminal investigation of the organization.[69] Trump argued that previous comments by James, including referring to him as an 'illegitimate president' during her campaign for attorney general, prove that she has a political vendetta against him.[70] On February 16, 2024, the fraud case against the former president, Donald Trump, proved successful. Judge Arthur Engoron's 92-page ruling barred Trump from operating any business in New York for three years and fined him more than $355 million.[71][72]

Personal life

James lives in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn and is a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church.[73][74]

At a May 2022 rally, James stated that she had received an abortion early in her tenure as a member of the New York City Council. James said, "'I was just elected and I was faced with the decision of whether to have an abortion or not, and I chose to have an abortion. I walked proudly into Planned Parenthood, and I make no apologies to anyone'".[75][76][77][78]

Electoral history

New York City Council

2001 New York City Council's 35th district Democratic primary[79]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticJames E. Davis 6,691 37.37%
DemocraticLetitia James5,74632.09%
DemocraticPeter Williams1,82310.18%
DemocraticAbraham E. Wasserman1,7549.80%
DemocraticWilliam J. Saunders8754.89%
DemocraticSidique Wai5563.10%
DemocraticRobert A. Hunter5563.10%
Total votes17,907 100%
2001 New York City Council's 35th district general election[80]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticJames E. Davis 13,129 55.64%
Working FamiliesLetitia James9,76241.37%
IndependenceSidique Wai4972.11%
LiberalSidique Wai2100.89%
TotalSidique Wai7073.00%
Total votes23,598 100%
Democratic hold
2003 New York City Council's 35th district general election[81]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Working FamiliesLetitia James 14,166 76.70%
DemocraticGeoffrey A. Davis3,07716.66%
IndependenceGeoffrey A. Davis4971.71%
TotalGeoffrey A. Davis3,39218.36%
RepublicanAnthony Herbert5492.97%
ConservativeAbraham E. Wasserman3631.97%
Total votes18,470 100%
Working Families gain from Democratic
2005 New York City Council's 35th district Democratic primary[82]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticLetitia James (incumbent) 8,667 84.92%
DemocraticSamuel Eric Blackwell1,53915.08%
Total votes10,206 100%
2005 New York City Council's 35th district general election[83]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticLetitia James16,44777.61%
Working FamiliesLetitia James2,27510.74%
Total Letitia James (incumbent) 18,722 88.35%
RepublicanAnthony Herbert1,3096.18%
ConservativeAnthony Herbert1810.85%
TotalAnthony Herbert1,4907.03%
IndependenceCharles B. Billups9794.62%
Total votes21,191 100%
Democratic gain from Working Families
2009 New York City Council's 35th district Democratic primary[84]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticLetitia James (incumbent) 8,027 81.15%
DemocraticDelia M. Hunley-Adossa1,53913.92%
DemocraticMedhanie Estiphanos4884.93%
Total votes9,893 100%
2009 New York City Council's 35th district general election[85]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticLetitia James (incumbent)19,87392.29%
RepublicanStuart A. Balberg1,3556.29%
ConservativeStuart A. Balberg3061.42%
TotalStuart A. Balberg1,6617.71%
Total votes21,534 100%
Democratic hold

New York City Public Advocate

2013 New York City Public Advocate Democratic primary[86]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticLetitia James 191,347 36.11%
DemocraticDaniel Squadron 178,151 33.62%
DemocraticReshma Saujani76,98314.53%
DemocraticCathy Guerriero69,02513.03%
DemocraticSidique Wai14,4092.72%
Total votes529,915 100%
2013 New York City Public Advocate Democratic primary runoff[87]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticLetitia James119,60459.02%
DemocraticDaniel Squadron83,04340.98%
Total votes202,647 100%
2013 New York City Public Advocate general election[88]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticLetitia James761,05877.87%
Working FamiliesLetitia James53,8215.51%
Total Letitia James 814,879 83.37%
ConservativeRobert Maresca119,76812.25%
GreenJames Lane16,9741.74%
LibertarianAlex Merced10,4191.07%
Socialist WorkersDeborah O. Liatos5,1140.52%
War VeteransIrene Estrada4,2160.43%
Students FirstMollina G. Fabricant2,3910.24%
Freedom PartyMichael K. Lloyd1,7990.18
Total votes975,560 100%
Democratic hold
2017 New York City Public Advocate Democratic primary[89]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticLetitia James (incumbent) 300,301 76.50%
DemocraticDavid Eisenbach92,24623.50%
Total votes392,547 100%
2017 New York City Public Advocate general election[90]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticLetitia James186,91673.10%
Working FamiliesLetitia James16,5866.49%
Total Letitia James (incumbent) 203,502 79.58%
RepublicanJuan Carlos Polanco31,20612.20%
ReformJuan Carlos Polanco1,7040.67%
Stop De BlasioJuan Carlos Polanco9880.39%
TotalJuan Carlos Polanco33,89813.26%
ConservativeMichael A. O'Reilly9,8683.86%
GreenJames C. Lane6,1602.41%
LibertarianDevin Balkin2,2760.89%
Total votes255,704 100%
Democratic hold

New York Attorney General

2018 New York Attorney General Democratic primary[91]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticLetitia James 608,308 38.53%
DemocraticZephyr Teachout468,08329.65%
DemocraticSean Patrick Maloney379,09924.02%
DemocraticLeecia Eve52,3673.32%
Total votes1,578,588 100%
2018 New York Attorney General general election[92]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticLetitia James3,497,21358.38%
Working FamiliesLetitia James152,3502.54%
IndependenceLetitia James89,6761.50%
Total Letitia James 3,739,239 62.42%
RepublicanKeith Wofford1,851,51030.91%
ConservativeKeith Wofford257,0904.29%
TotalKeith Wofford2,108,60035.20%
GreenMichael Sussman72,5121.21%
LibertarianChristopher Garvey43,7670.73
ReformNancy Sliwa26,4410.44%
Total votes5,990,559 100%
Democratic hold
2022 New York Attorney General general election[93]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticLetitia James2,769,31249.29%
Working FamiliesLetitia James280,1504.99%
TotalLetitia James (incumbent)3,049,46254.28%
RepublicanMichael Henry2,262,32340.27%
ConservativeMichael Henry306,1875.45%
TotalMichael Henry2,568,51045.72%
Total votes5,617,972 100%
Democratic hold

See also

References

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Political offices
Preceded by Member of the New York City Council
from the 35th district

2004–2013
Succeeded by
Preceded by Public Advocate of New York City
2014–2018
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Attorney General of New York
2018
Most recent
Legal offices
Preceded by Attorney General of New York
2019–present
Incumbent

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