By LOUIS FLORES
One day after the New York State Attorney General's Office declined Progress Queens' request for comment about Herbalife's exploitations of Latinos in Queens, Attorney General Eric Scheniderman (D-NY) campaigned in The Bronx with Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and other prominent Latino leaders.
Leaders of Latino social services organizations are working to end Herbalife's “predatory business practices” that Latino leaders say exploit the Latino community with product claims that are false and income promises that are fraudulent. Between 60 to 83 per cent. of Herbalife's salesforce is Latino, according to an estimate by Brent Wilkes, the national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC. Various press reports identify Queens as an area where Herbalife recruits many Latinos to both sell the company's products and to recruit still yet other Latinos to join Herbalife's salesforce.
Herbalife's business model has been described as a pyramid scheme by investors and watchdog experts, and Attorney General Schneiderman is reportedly investigating Herbalife, although, Herbalife is fighting back by employing teams of lobbyists and consultants, including the law firm Dickstein Shapiro, a subject in an exposé in The New York Times about lobbyists undermining criminal investigations of corporations by states' attorneys general, and the consulting firm SKD Knickerbocker, where Attorney General Schneiderman's ex-wife, Jennifer Cunningham, is a key consultant.
In this year's election, issues important to Latinos have become central themes for Democratic candidates seeking reelection, including promises that Gov. Cuomo will make the efforting to ensure that the DREAM Act will pass through the New York state legislature sometime in the next four years.
However, questions as to whether the state's top prosecutor will swiftly and vigorously investigate pyramid schemes, such as Herbalife, have not been directed to Attorney General Schneiderman. When Progress Queens requested an interview with the attorney general, the request was declined.