The top lawyer in Coral Gables, City Attorney Craig Leen, is leaving his post to take a senior position at the Labor Department under President Donald Trump, according to a top elected official.
Leen, 42, will serve as senior adviser to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, a Cabinet secretary from the Miami area, Leen confirmed Thursday night. Acosta was dean of the law school at Florida International University when Leen worked there part-time as an adjunct law professor. Leen said Acosta contacted him over the summer and requested he join him in Washington.
Leen said he does not have a party affiliation, and did vote for Trump in November. He described his political post, approved by the White House, as overseeing compliance rules for government contractors. The work overlaps with his background as a government lawyer on the local level, he said.
“I’ve been so lucky,” Leen said of his six years at Coral Gables. “Coral Gables is at the forefront of so many issues.”
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Leen said his new post pays about $160,000 a year, while he makes above $200,000 with the city. His wife, Ana, a child psychiatrist, has already moved to the Washington area, he said, and they will be living there with their two school-age children. The Leens have also been active in the Miami area promoting inclusion for people with autism. Both of their children have autism.
Appointed city attorney in 2011, Leen and his staff have gained national attention for Coral Gables and its propensity to sue high-profile corporations and use the city’s legal muscle to pursue critics. In August, Coral Gables sued Facebook and Instagram. The suit sought posting information about videos from Gables groups falsely alleging police brutality in the city. The footage was actually from a police incident in Seattle.
After Hurricane Irma left the affluent city without power longer than in surrounding areas, Leen sent a cease-and-desist lawyer to Florida Power & Light, demanding it restore power within 48 hours. The for-profit utility rejected the demand, and blamed Coral Gables for resisting needed trimming of its lush foliage.
“It’s a tough day for the city,” Vince Lago, a member of the Coral Gables city council, said of Leen’s announced departure. “He’s been a steward of the city. He’s done a great job.”