NEW YORK - Andrew Cuomo's campaign office yesterday denied the comments by columnist Gerson Borrero that the attorney general's office included few Hispanics.
John Milgram, the attorney general's spokesman, said that until a few months ago, two of the 20 members of the "senior staff" were Hispanic women, Lillian 'Lee' Llambelis, who was director of intergovernmental relations, and Jenny Rivera, who was director of the attorney general's civil rights office – but both had decided to move on to other jobs.
According to the spokesman, the AG's 13 regional offices employ 107 lawyers, of whom six are Hispanic. (Borrero said that of 116, four were Hispanic.)
"Ever since he assumed office, Attorney General Cuomo's commitment to diversity has been unprecedented, and 10 percent of the team closest to him was Latino for most of his term in office. More than 6 percent of the prosecuting attorneys are Latino, and this figure is 50 percent higher than the percentage of Hispanics working for the State in general," said Milgram.
According to the New York State Department of Civil Service, of the total 1,627 employees in the Attorney General's Office, through January of 2010, Hispanics made up 6.3 percent of the people working there, whites made up 75.2 percent, and African Americans made up 14.8 percent. The number of state employees throughout New York who are Hispanic is 4.5 percent.
To State Senator Rubén Díaz Sr. (D - District 32), the figures offered by Gerson Borrero are "a cause for indignation; they are shameful," adding that Cuomo and the Democrats court Hispanics only at the last minute. "What the Democratic Party does is use us, and give us nothing," said Díaz, adding that he had not attended Cuomo's meeting with Hispanic leaders because he was tired of being made a "fool" of.
At that meeting last Saturday, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D – District 12), co-director of Cuomo's campaign, said that the Hispanic leaders had called the Attorney General's attention to the fact that he had included no other Hispanic person among those with important campaign responsibilities, although he had promised to do so.
Yesterday, the campaign announced that Evelyn Cruz would join the staff as coordinator for the Latino community. The Hispanic Bar Association, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund all declined to comment. The same was true of Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-District 12) and Fernando Ferrer.