Espaillat Angry at Airbnb; Gives Herbalife a Pass

State Senator Adriano Espaillat wrote a letter criticizing City & State magazine for co-sponsoring a SOMOS cocktail party with Airbnb, but he failed to point out that Herbalife, which he has specifically targeted in the past, is a major SOMOS sponsor.

In a letter to Tom Allon, the president of City & State, Sen. Espaillat, joined by a number of other Latino elected officials, demanded that Airbnb be dropped as a SOMOS co-sponsor, claiming that the internet home-share middleman "exacerbates the housing crisis plaguing our communities...particularly the communities we represent."

Last year Espaillat wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission claiming that Herbalife is "an illegal pyramid scheme, using false income claims" to lure Latinos into "losing business deals."  

City Council Watch has previously covered the nexus of Latino politicians, including Espaillat, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Julissa Ferreras, all of whom in apparent conjunction with their political consultant MirRam Group, wrote letters demanding federal action on Herbalife.  The MirRam Group was hired by William Ackman of Pershing Square Capital to organize Latino opposition to Herbalife, which Ackman has bet against in major stock shorts.

Herbalife is a major sponsor of SOMOS El Futuro, and SOMOS conference name tags even have the name "Herbalife" prominently printed on them.

A spokeman for Senator Espaillat said, "I don't see this as hypocrisy.  Nothing we have done could suggest that the Senator supports Herbalife.  We asked for an investigation, and there is one."

Alerted to the SOMOS/Herbalife connection, the press office of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said she found the sponsorship "disappointing."