Letitia James

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Letitia James
Letitia James Interview Feb 2020.png
67th Attorney General of New York
Assumed office
January 1, 2019
GovernorAndrew Cuomo
Preceded byBarbara Underwood
4th New York City Public Advocate
In office
January 1, 2014 – December 31, 2018
Preceded byBill de Blasio
Succeeded byCorey Johnson (acting)
Jumaane Williams
Member of the New York City Council
from the 35th district
In office
January 1, 2004 – December 31, 2013
Preceded byJames E. Davis
Succeeded byLaurie Cumbo
Personal details
Born (1958-10-18) October 18, 1958 (age 61)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Other political
affiliations
Working Families Party
EducationLehman College (BA)
Howard University (JD)
Columbia University (MPA)
WebsiteGovernment website

Letitia Ann "Tish" James (born October 18, 1958) is an American lawyer, activist, and politician. She is a member of the Democratic Party, and is the Attorney General of New York having won the 2018 election to succeed appointed attorney general Barbara Underwood. She is the first African-American and first woman to be elected to the position.[1]

James previously served for a decade as a member of the New York City Council. She represented the 35th Council District, which includes the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, parts of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Bedford-Stuyvesant. James chaired the Economic Development and Sanitation Committees, and served on several other committees. She was later elected the New York City Public Advocate in 2013.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, James obtained her J.D. degree at Howard University in Washington, D.C., after graduating from Lehman College in The Bronx. She worked as a public defender, then on staff in the New York State Assembly, and later as an Assistant Attorney General. She first ran for city council and won on the Working Families Party ballot line.

Early life and education[edit]

Letitia Ann James[2] was born on October 18, 1958,[3] in Brooklyn,[4] the daughter of Nellie and Robert James.[citation needed] She attended New York City public schools and received her B.A. from the City University of New York's Lehman College in 1981.[5]

She received her J.D. degree from the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.,[6] and was admitted to practice law in New York state in 1989.[7] In 2013, she was attending Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs for a degree in Master of Public Administration.[8]

Career[edit]

James served as a public defender for the Legal Aid Society[9] and established the Urban Network, a coalition of African American professional organizations aimed at providing scholarships for young people.[10][11] In 1994, she promoted the Primary Health Care Development Bill in the City Council, which expanded day care resources for working families across the city. In 1996, James negotiated the Welfare Reform Act on behalf of the New York State Black and Puerto Rican Caucus.[citation needed]

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.[9]

2001 and 2003 City Council races[edit]

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 Davis lost by a large margin to James as the Working Families Party nominee.[12] 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.[13][14][15]

City Council tenure[edit]

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.[16] She has since changed back to the Democratic party.[13] In 2005, James became involved in advocating against the proposed Brooklyn Nets Arena in her district, a case that put her against her Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Borough President Marty Markowitz and developer Bruce Ratner. James opposed the use of eminent domain to evict her constituents, selling the MTA's Atlantic Yards property below its market value, and keeping the planning of the project away from the New York City Council.[citation needed]

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.[17]

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 the citation of 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.[18]

James was the sponsor of New York law 2007/29, which addressed the Alternative Enforcement Program by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and violations of the housing maintenance code and multiple dwelling law; and 2008/004, which addressed the availability of Child Health Plus laws in day cares.[citation needed]

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.[19][20]

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.[21] In 2008, James, with Bill de Blasio, advocated against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempts to seek a third term without a voter referendum.[22]

James won the Democratic primary in September 2009 against her opponents, community organizer Delia Hunley-Adossa,[23] who received more than $200,000 from Forest City Ratner[24] and Medhanie Estiphanos, a financial consultant.[24] James went on to win re-election for a second term.

With New York State Senator Eric Adams, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, and NY city councilman Jumaane Williams, James called upon Mayor Bloomberg to investigate systemic corruption in the NYPD in November 2011.[25] She was also one of four councilmembers to sue the NYPD over its treatment of protesters at Occupy Wall Street.[citation needed]

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.[26]

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.[27] BB&T was specifically requested to drop the accounts of SIG Sauer of New Hampshire, but denied the request.[28]

Committee assignments[edit]

  • 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[6][29]

Public Advocate[edit]

Letitia 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.[30] James won the runoff election on October 1, 2013, against Daniel Squadron, 59%–41%, becoming the party's nominee for the city's elected watchdog position in November.

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.[citation needed] James accomplished her first-place finish in spite of her campaign trailing Daniel Squadron's and Reshma Saujani's, in fundraising.[31] on October 1, 2013, becoming the party's nominee for the city's elected watchdog position in November. She was endorsed by third-place finisher Saujani in September[32] James won the Democratic runoff election.[30] Without a Republican opponent, she won the general election with over 83% of the vote.[33]

In 2017, James won the Democratic primary for her position with 77% of the vote, over closest competitor David Eisenbach’s 23%.[34]

New York State Attorney General[edit]

Election[edit]

In May 2018, James, who initially planned to run for Mayor of New York City in 2021 [35], 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.[36][37] On November 6, 2018, she was elected attorney general, defeating Republican Keith Wofford.[38]

Tenure[edit]

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.[39]

State civil suit against the NRA[edit]

On 6 August 2020, in a televised broadcast, New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced a state civil lawsuit filed with the Manhattan Supreme Court against the National Rifle Association (NRA), including against four of its department heads.[40]

Electoral history[edit]

New York City Council[edit]

2001 New York City Council's 35th District Democratic Primary[41]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic James E. Davis 6,691 37.37%
Democratic Letitia James 5,746 32.09%
Democratic Peter Williams 1,823 10.18%
Democratic Abraham E. Wasserman 1,754 9.80%
Democratic William J. Saunders 875 4.89%
Democratic Sidique Wai 556 3.10%
Democratic Robert A. Hunter 556 3.10%
Total votes 17,907 100%
2001 New York City Council's 35th District General Election[42]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic James E. Davis 13,129 55.64%
Working Families Letitia James 9,762 41.37%
Independence Sidique Wai 497 2.11%
Liberal Sidique Wai 210 0.89%
Total Sidique Wai 707 3.00%
Total votes 23,598 100%
Democratic hold
2003 New York City Council's 35th District General Election[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Working Families Letitia James 14,166 76.70%
Democratic Geoffrey A. Davis 3,077 16.66%
Independence Geoffrey A. Davis 497 1.71%
Total Geoffrey A. Davis 3,392 18.36%
Republican Anthony Herbert 549 2.97%
Conservative Abraham E. Wasserman 363 1.97%
Total votes 18,470 100%
Working Families gain from Democratic
2005 New York City Council's 35th District Democratic Primary[44]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Letitia James (incumbent) 8,667 84.92%
Democratic Samuel Eric Blackwell 1,539 15.08%
Total votes 10,206 100%
2005 New York City Council's 35th District General Election[45]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Letitia James 16,447 77.61%
Working Families Letitia James 2,275 10.74%
Total Letitia James (incumbent) 18,722 88.35%
Republican Anthony Herbert 1,309 6.18%
Conservative Anthony Herbert 181 0.85%
Total Anthony Herbert 1,490 7.03%
Independence Charles B. Billups 979 4.62%
Total votes 21,191 100%
Democratic gain from Working Families
2009 New York City Council's 35th District Democratic Primary[46]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Letitia James (incumbent) 8,027 81.15%
Democratic Delia M. Hunley-Adossa 1,539 13.92%
Democratic Medhanie Estiphanos 488 4.93%
Total votes 9,893 100%
2009 New York City Council's 35th District General Election[47]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Letitia James (incumbent) 19,873 92.29%
Republican Stuart A. Balberg 1,355 6.29%
Conservative Stuart A. Balberg 306 1.42%
Total Stuart A. Balberg 1,661 7.71%
Total votes 21,534 100%
Democratic hold

New York City Public Advocate[edit]

2013 New York City Public Advocate Democratic Primary[48]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Letitia James 191,347 36.11%
Democratic Daniel Squadron 178,151 33.62%
Democratic Reshma Saujani 76,983 14.53%
Democratic Cathy Guerriero 69,025 13.03%
Democratic Sidique Wai 14,409 2.72%
Total votes 529,915 100%
2013 New York City Public Advocate Democratic Primary Runoff[49]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Letitia James 119,604 59.02%
Democratic Daniel Squadron 83,043 40.98%
Total votes 202,647 100%
2013 New York City Public Advocate General Election[50]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Letitia James 761,058 77.87%
Working Families Letitia James 53,821 5.51%
Total Letitia James 814,879 83.37%
Conservative Robert Maresca 119,768 12.25%
Green James Lane 16,974 1.74%
Libertarian Alex Merced 10,419 1.07%
Socialist Workers Deborah O. Liatos 5,114 0.52%
War Veterans Irene Estrada 4,216 0.43%
Students First Mollina G. Fabricant 2,391 0.24%
Freedom Party Michael K. Lloyd 1,799 0.18
Total votes 975,560 100%
Democratic hold
2013 New York City Public Advocate Democratic Primary[51]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Letitia James (incumbent) 300,301 76.50%
Democratic David Eisenbach 92,246 23.50%
Total votes 392,547 100%
2017 New York City Public Advocate General Election[52]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Letitia James 186,916 73.10%
Working Families Letitia James 16,586 6.49%
Total Letitia James (incumbent) 203,502 79.58%
Republican Juan Carlos Polanco 31,206 12.20%
Reform Juan Carlos Polanco 1,704 0.67%
Stop De Blasio Juan Carlos Polcano 988 0.39%
Total Juan Carlos Polcano 33,898 13.26%
Conservative Michael A. O'Reilly 9,868 3.86%
Green James C. Lane 6,160 2.41%
Libertarian Devin Balkin 2,276 0.89%
Total votes 255,704 100%
Democratic hold

New York Attorney General[edit]

2018 New York Attorney General Democratic Primary[53]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Letitia James 608,308 38.53%
Democratic Zephyr Teachout 468,083 29.65%
Democratic Sean Patrick Maloney 379,099 24.02%
Democratic Leecia Eve 52,367 3.32%
Total votes 1,578,588 100%
2018 New York Attorney General General Election[54]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Letitia James 3,497,213 58.38%
Working Families Letitia James 152,350 2.54%
Independence Letitia James 89,676 1.50%
Total Letitia James 3,739,239 62.42%
Republican Keith Wofford 1,851,510 30.91%
Conservative Keith Wofford 257,090 4.29%
Total Keith Wofford 2,108,600 35.20%
Green Michael Sussman 72,512 1.21%
Libertarian Christopher Garvey 43,767 0.73
Reform Nancy Sliwa 26,441 0.44%
Total votes 5,990,559 100%
Democratic hold

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Westerman, Ashley (January 1, 2019). "N.Y. Swears In New Attorney General After A Tumultuous Year For The Office". NPR. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  2. ^ https://www.martindale.com/new-york/new-york/letitia-ann-james-448146-a/
  3. ^ Kravitz, Derek (August 22, 2013). "Candidate's Age Often Listed Incorrectly". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  4. ^ Phillips, Kristine (December 19, 2018). "New York's next attorney general targeted slumlords. Now she's going after Trump". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  5. ^ "Distinguished CUNY Alumnae". The City University of New York. Archived from the original on August 17, 2009. Retrieved May 7, 2009.
  6. ^ a b "District 35". Laurie A. Cumbo. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  7. ^ "NYS Attorney Registration".
  8. ^ "About Tish". Letitia James 2013. Archived from the original on September 15, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  9. ^ a b "2003 General Election Voter Guide: 35th City Council District". NYC Campaign Finance Board.
  10. ^ "April 23 – Lunch with Legislators: Council Member Letitia James". Women's City Club of New York. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013.
  11. ^ "Candidates for Public Advocate: Democratic Primary". NYC Campaign Finance Board.
  12. ^ Hu, Winnie (November 5, 2003). "THE 2003 ELECTION: CITY COUNCIL; Letitia James Wins Seat That Slain Man's Brother Felt Was Rightfully His". Retrieved March 12, 2019 – via NYTimes.com.
  13. ^ a b Nahmias, Laura; Pazmino, Gloria. "The rise of Tish James". Politico PRO. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  14. ^ "WFP Gives Seal of Approval to Both Tish James and Zephyr Teachout for Attorney General". Working Families. May 19, 2018. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  15. ^ Richardson, Lynda (November 19, 2003). "PUBLIC LIVES; Only the Party Is Minor, Not Its Councilwoman". Retrieved March 12, 2019 – via NYTimes.com.
  16. ^ Richardson, Lynda (November 19, 2003). "Public Lives; Only the Party Is Minor, Not Its Councilwoman". New York Times.
  17. ^ "Election 2005". NY1. Archived from the original on March 28, 2006. Retrieved November 9, 2005.
  18. ^ Rubinstein, Dana (January 6, 2007). "'Angel' on the market: Clinton Hill amalgam is yours for $1.5 mil". The Brooklyn Papers.
  19. ^ "CityTime Payroll Manager Fired Over Pay Scandal". WNYC.
  20. ^ "$450 million Fraud: CityTime husband and wife team flee country leaving 200 employees in the lurch". New York Daily News.
  21. ^ McLaughlin, Mike (July 15, 2008). "James gets in middle of 'Row'". The Brooklyn Paper.
  22. ^ Hicks, Jonathan P. (October 16, 2008). "Councilman Balks at Procedure to Change Term Limits". City Blogs. New York Times.
  23. ^ "James, in a landslide" Archived July 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Newman, Andy (September 15, 2009) The Local
  24. ^ a b "The Day: Hunley-Adossa Group Got More than 200G from Ratner". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  25. ^ "Senator Eric Adams, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, Councilmember Letitia James and Councilmember Jumaane Williams call on Mayor Bloomberg to appoint Commission to Investigate Systemic Corruption in the NYPD". nysenate.gov.
  26. ^ "Pols James, Mosley Lend Support To City Point Lawsuit". City & State. Archived from the original on October 2, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  27. ^ "PA James Calls on Six Banks to Terminate Financial Backing of Sig Sauer, Maker of Gun Used in Orlando Massacre". Public Advocate for the City of New York.
  28. ^ "BB&T doesn't agree to drop Sig Sauer firearm accounts". Winston-Salem Journal.
  29. ^ [1]. Gross, Courtney. (January 22, 2010) "Stated Meeting: The Council's New Order"
  30. ^ a b "Election 2013: Other Races".
  31. ^ "Shunning Squadron, the Brooklyn Democratic organization backs Letitia James". Capital.
  32. ^ "Reshma Saujani endorses Letitia James". Letitia James campaign.
  33. ^ "Letitia James wins NYC Public Advocate Democratic runoff". WABC TV. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  34. ^ Max, Ben. "2017 New York City Primary Election Results". Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  35. ^ "Tish James On Her Run for Attorney General, Boosting Our Communities, And Speaking Truth To Power". Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  36. ^ "No Need to Flash-Forward to 2021: Mayoral Hopefuls Already Engaged". Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  37. ^ "Letitia James Makes History by Winning Attorney General Primary in New York". Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  38. ^ "Breaking Barriers, Letitia James Is Elected New York Attorney General". The New York Times. November 6, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  39. ^ "James Sworn In As NY Attorney General". WAMC. The Associated Press. January 1, 2019. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  40. ^ PBS News Hour, New York Attorney General Letitia James files lawsuit to dissolve NRA on YouTube, 6 August 2020
  41. ^ "F0202 2001 PRIMARY ELECTION October 11, 2001" (PDF). vote.nyc. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  42. ^ "2001 GENERAL ELECTION November 28, 2001" (PDF). vote.nyc. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  43. ^ "Microsoft Word - MnFront.doc" (PDF). vote.nyc. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  44. ^ "P2005KingsDem.pdf" (PDF). vote.nyc. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  45. ^ "Kings City Council 35 Recap.pdf" (PDF). vote.nyc. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  46. ^ "1.57KingsDemCouncil35Recap.pdf" (PDF). vote.nyc. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  47. ^ "6.18KingsCouncil35Recap.pdf" (PDF). vote.nyc. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  48. ^ "Staten Island, New York City Primary Night returns". slive.com. September 11, 2013. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  49. ^ "NYC Public Advocate Runoff Results". October 1, 2013. Archived from the original on October 3, 2013. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  50. ^ "Statement and Return Report for Certification" (PDF). Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  51. ^ "Citywide Democratic Public Advocate Citywide Recap.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  52. ^ "Citywide Public Advocate Citywide Recap.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  53. ^ "New York primary election results 2018: Governor and Attorney General races". Washington Post. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  54. ^ "Certified Results from the November 6, 2018 General Election for Attorney General" (PDF). elections.ny.gov. New York State Board of Elections. Retrieved June 11, 2020.

External links[edit]

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

2004–2013
Succeeded by
Laurie Cumbo
Preceded by
Bill de Blasio
Public Advocate of New York City
2014–2018
Succeeded by
Corey Johnson
Acting
Party political offices
Preceded by
Eric Schneiderman
Democratic nominee for Attorney General of New York
2018
Most recent
Legal offices
Preceded by
Barbara Underwood
Attorney General of New York
2019–present
Incumbent