A billionaire hedge fund manager has apologized for an online post saying that a black New York state senator has "done more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood" because of her support for teachers unions.
Daniel Loeb issued a statement saying he regrets the language he used in the Facebook post about Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Yonkers Democrat. The post was an apparent reference to the white headgear of the Ku Klux Klan. It was deleted late Thursday.
Loeb, the CEO of the investment firm Third Point, is a top donor to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and many other politicians. He is a leading supporter of charter schools.
"I regret the language I used in expressing my passion for educational choice," he said in his statement about the post, emailed to The Associated Press on Friday morning. "I apologize to Sen. Stewart-Cousins and anyone I offended."
Cuomo and other Democrats had denounced Loeb's comments.
"We have no connection with these comments whatsoever and in our opinion they are entirely inappropriate and have no place in the public discourse," said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi.
Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Stewart-Cousins, said there was "no place in our discourse, political or otherwise, for these dangerous words.
"Daniel Loeb should be utterly ashamed of his disgusting statements. This whole episode speaks volumes about the state of our politics right here in New York," Murphy said.
Loeb's Facebook post was in response to a story in The New York Times earlier this week on the ongoing tension between Cuomo, mainline Democrats and a Democratic Senate faction led by Sen. Jeff Klein of the Bronx who broke ranks with the party to empower Republicans, who now control the Senate. The story detailed an exchange between Stewart-Cousins and Cuomo in which Cuomo suggested that Klein had a better grasp of suburban issues than mainline Senate Democrats.
"You look at me, Mr. Governor, but you don't see me," Stewart-Cousins told Cuomo in response, according to the article. "You see my black skin and a woman, but you don't realize that I am a suburban legislator. Jeff Klein doesn't represent the suburbs. I do."
While Loeb deleted his remarks, The Times reported the text and the AP obtained a screen shot of the post.
"Thank God for Jeff Klein and those who stand for educational choice and support Charter (sic) funding that leads to economic mobility and opportunity for poor knack kids," the post read. "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."
Klein, another recipient of Loeb contributions, also distanced himself from the remarks.
"The statements are wrong and have to be repudiated. I dissociate myself from such statements," he said in a statement.