Hedge Funds

Daniel Loeb, a Cuomo Donor, Makes Racial Remark About Black Leader

Shane Goldmacher
Daniel Loeb
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The hedge fund manager Daniel S. Loeb, a prominent supporter of charter schools and a major financial backer of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and congressional Republicans, accused the African-American woman who leads the Democrats in the New York State Senate of having done "more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood."

Mr. Loeb made the reference, apparently to the Ku Klux Klan, in a posting on Facebook in response to an article in The New York Times this week in which the Democratic leader, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, confronted Mr. Cuomo about prejudging her based upon race and gender.

In a private meeting last month, The Times reported, Ms. Stewart-Cousins said to Mr. Cuomo during a debate over who best understands suburban voters: "You look at me, Mr. Governor, but you don't see me. You see my black skin and a woman, but you don't realize I am a suburban legislator."

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Mr. Loeb weighed in on behalf of Senator Jeffrey D. Klein of the Bronx, the leader of a group of Democrats that has split from Ms. Stewart-Cousins.

"Thank God for Jeff Klein and those who stand for educational choice and support Charter funding that leads to economic mobility and opportunity for poor knack kids," Mr. Loeb wrote, with "knack" apparently a typographical error for "black." "Meanwhile hypocrites like Stewart-Cousins who pay fealty to powerful union thugs and bosses do more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood."

After The Times reported on his Facebook remarks, Mr. Loeb deleted them late Thursday night.

"I regret the language I used in expressing my passion for educational choice," he said in a statement. "I apologize to Senator Stewart-Cousins and anyone I offended. I have taken down the post from Facebook."

Mr. Klein leads a group of eight Democrats who in 2011 broke away from the main Democratic conference, led by Ms. Stewart-Cousins. Mr. Klein's group, the Independent Democratic Conference, has in the past sided with the Republicans in the Senate to keep Ms. Stewart-Cousins out of the powerful post of majority leader.

Mr. Loeb has been a prominent player in New York politics, as the chairman of the Success Academy charter school network and as a major political donor. In 2015, protesters objecting to Mr. Cuomo's ties to wealthy donors marched outside a fund-raiser that Mr. Loeb hosted for Mr. Cuomo at his home in the Hamptons.

Mr. Loeb and his wife have donated more than $170,000 to Mr. Cuomo in recent years, state records show. He has also supported Republicans, with contributions including $500,000 to a super PAC that supported Jeb Bush in 2015, $150,000 to the Republican National Committee that year and $700,000 to a super PAC supporting House Republicans in 2016.

Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, said, "We have no connection with these comments whatsoever, and in our opinion they are entirely inappropriate and have no place in the public discourse."