Sharpton and other black leaders attack Wiley’s diversity record

The Rev. Al Sharpton has decided not to endorse in the hotly contested 2021 NYC mayoral primary race, but just two days before the June 22 election he’s criticizing frontrunner Maya Wiley’s diversity record.

When Wiley left the de Blasio administration in 2016 — where she served as both Hizzoner’s counsel and the city’s Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprise (WMBE) director — less than 5 percent of public spending went to those firms even though they account for 30 percent of Big Apple-based companies.

During her two years at City Hall, the portion of total WMBE procurement for the city actually dropped from 5.3 to 4.9 percent, according to the city comptroller’s office.

“I’ve not reviewed the contracts but much of our work at NAN is around economic equity and fighting to get MWBE contracts up, not down,” Sharpton told The Post about his National Action Network civil rights group.

City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, who is supporting Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for mayor, had harsher words for Wiley’s inability to boost the bucks to minority businesses during her tenure.

“That is a disgrace. Black and brown New Yorkers need economic opportunity, not empty rhetoric,” Cumbo said. 

Sharpton and other black leaders criticized Wiley's tenure as Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprise director.
Sharpton and other black leaders criticized Wiley’s tenure as Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprise director.
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Robert L. Greene, head of the National Association of Investment Companies, questioned whether Wiley, a civil rights attorney, is a true progressive given the lack of minority contracting progress under her leadership.

“It is difficult to predict what any candidate will do when they are in office,” Greene told The Post.

“However the two best indicators seem to be track record and what are the priorities of their biggest supporters. The fundamental question is what did you do when you had an opportunity to lead?

“Unfortunately very little has been done in NYC to more broadly engage with minority business. Despite a ‘progressive agenda’ the facts are that minority business enterprise (MBE) utilization rates have remained flat, leaving many minority contractors out of getting full and fair consideration.

“I hope the voters in this year’s NYC mayoral race understand that and elect a mayor that will provide broader opportunities for those that continue to be left behind,” Greene said.

City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo called Wiley's record a "disgrace."
City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo called Wiley’s record a “disgrace.”
Paul Martinka

And while the MWBE work is in the past, opponents point to her current backing by the 1199 SEIU health care union as evidence that her lack of focus on boosting minority businesses will continue if she’s elected mayor. 

Greene said less than 2% of the union’s $20 billion pension fund is with diverse asset managers.

A recent New York Post poll found Wiley in second place just behind Adams in the hotly-contested Democratic primary race.

Other critics have attacked Wiley’s progressive bona fides. The former NAACP attorney has put her own children in selective and private schools while advocating for a desegregated education system, her exclusive Prospect Park South, Brooklyn neighborhood has private security while she presses to defund the NYPD and she’s raked in six-figure salaries as a career “activist.”

Wiley spokeswoman Julia Savel said, A rep for Wiley said, “As head of the MWBE program, Maya Wiley brought together every New York City agency and took New York from $500 million in contracts to $1.6 billion in just two years — an unprecedented jump that reflects her deep commitments to creating a New York that lifts up every community.”.

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