Attorney General

Schneiderman Endorsed By Tonko, Distances Himself From Moreland

Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Wednesday in a radio interview insisted he kept the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption at arm’s length.

Schneiderman, talking to Susan Arbetter on The Capitol Pressroom this morning, said he felt it was important to deputize the commission members in order to help them fight corruption.

But after that, the commission to him was an independent entity, Schneiderman said.

“After that, I treated it as an independent commission,” Schneiderman said in the interview.

The attorney general’s Republican opponent, John Cahill, has sought to tie Schneiderman to the reported involvement in the commission by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose office sought to block or direct subpoenas from the commission.

The handling of the commission by the governor’s office, as well as any information the panel generated, is not the subject of an inquiry by the U.S. attorney’s office.

Schneiderman would not answer whether he was aware the commission was set up so Cuomo could exact a degree of leverage over state lawmakers in order to have them agree to new ethics and anti-corruption laws.

“I’m not going to jeopardize a criminal investigation by commenting,” he said.

Meanwhile, Schneiderman will be endorsed today by Rep. Paul Tonko, who represents the Capital Region.

“New Yorkers have been well served by Eric Schneiderman as their Attorney General,” Tonko said in a statement. “Eric’s commitment to holding Wall Street accountable and ensuring fair and sound settlements for families impacted by the mortgage crisis is without equal. Eric has also proven that a hands-on approach, working with local law enforcement and understanding the needs of our communities can lead to stronger outcomes in reducing crime and improving quality of life for all New Yorkers. I am proud to support Eric for re-election as the peoples’ lawyer.”

Both Schneiderman and Cahill will debate on Thursday on Time Warner Cable News and NY1 at 7 p.m.

NOW-NYS Gives Late Nod To Schneiderman

The National Organization for Women New York State (NOW-NYS) is poised to announce its support today for Democratic state AG Eric Schneiderman, saying he has been an “incredibly strong defender of women’s rights.”

“From introducing the Reproductive Rights Disclosure Act, to expanding clinic buffer zones, to investigating so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers’, Eric has taken on tough fights for the women of New York State,” said NOW-NYS President Zenaida Mendez.

“Meanwhile his opponent has an extreme anti-choice record that’s simply wrong for New York. That is why NOW-NYS is proudly supporting Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s re-election.”

This is a continuation of a theme that Schneiderman and his allies have kept up throughout the campaign – that Republican AG candidate John Cahill, a practicing Catholic who personally opposes abortion, is too extreme to be the state’s top attorney.

Cahill has repeatedly said that despite his personal beliefs, he will uphold and defend all of New York’s laws if he’s elected on Nov. 4.

To bolster the NOW-NYS endorsement, Schneiderman’s campaign is releasing a new online video that features young women slamming Cahill for his opposition to abortion rights and what they deem his “anti-choice” record while serving as a top official in the administration of former GOP Gov. George Pataki.

Pataki, for the record, is a moderate Republican who at times got into hot water with conservative supporters by describing his own position on abortion as “pro-choice.”

However, he has said he opposes the abortion-rights plank in Cuomo’s 10-point Women’s Equality Act, which Cahill also does not support.

Picente Returns To GOP Fold for Cahill

Republican Oneida County Executive Tony Picente, who crossed party lines to endorse Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo for re-election, has returned to the GOP fold to endorse his party’s candidate for state attorney general, John Cahill.

The Cahill campaign released a statement from Picente declaring that he is “100 percent” behind the candidacy of the former top Pataki administration aide and believes he’ll be a strong partner in the AG’s office.

“John understands that the only way we can get New York working is to encourage a growth-oriented business climate that will create real jobs and keep our best and brightest here at home,” the county executive continued.

“John’s public and private experience, coupled with his genuine desire to serve the people of New York make him the best candidate for attorney general – hands down.”

Picente did not say anything negative in his statement about his Democratic opponent, incumbent AG Eric Schneiderman.

Earlier this month, Picente followed the lead of two of his fellow GOP county executives – Onondaga’s Joanie Mahoney and Nassau’s Ed Mangano – in passing over his party’s gubernatorial candidate, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, in favor of backing Cuomo.

All three Republicans also appeared in campaign ads on Cuomo’s behalf.

Balboni for Schneiderman (Again)

Former GOP Sen. Mike Balboni and his wife will host a fund-raiser for Democratic state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman next Monday at their Long Island home, according to an invitation sent out by the Nassau County Democratic Party.

The event, which costs between $1,000 (for individuals) and $10,000 (for hosts) to attend, will provide Schneiderman will a last-minute infusion of cash as he heads into the final days of the race with his GOP challenger, former Pataki administration official John Cahill.

Balboni and Schneiderman were once Senate colleagues, and the former senator – who refers to himself as a “lifelong Republican” – crossed party lines to endorse Schneiderman the first time he ran for AG in 2010 against GOP Staten Island DA Dan Donovan.

Balboni’s efforts on behalf of the Democratic AG could be viewed as a snub to Cahill. But the ex-lawmaker’s dalliances with Democrats date back a long way.

Balboni angered his fellow Republicans when he departed the Senate in December 2006 to accept a job offer from Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer, serving as the administration’s homeland security czar.

Balboni has long held his Long Island seat largely by force of personality (and incumbancy). Fueled by camapign cash that Spitzer, who was very interested in wresting control of the Senate from the GOP, the Democrats won the seat in a 2007 special election, elevating Democratic Nassau County Legislator Craig Johnson to the state legislative post.

Johnson won a full two-year term in the 2008 elections, but lost his seat in a very tight race 2010 to Republican Mineola Mayor Jack Martins, who is now in a hotly contested race with Democratic businessman Adam Haber.

Balboni remained in his post following Spitzer’s resignation due to a prostitution scandal, but tendered his resignation to Spitzer’s successor, former Gov. David Paterson, in January 2010, to take a job in the private sector. In 2012, he founded a consulting/lobbying firm – RedLand Strategies - that focuses on public safety, government relations, media management and business development.

The former senator has been mentioned from time to time as mulling a potential return to political life, but has so far restricted his efforts to raising campaign cash for other candidates. He

Earlier this year, Balboni, who has some clients who do business with the state, co-hosted a “Republicans for Cuomo” event at The Pierre Hotel in Manhattan, – an event for which tickets went for as much as $50,000 a head.

Balboni is not alone among Nassau County Republicans in his support of Cuomo. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano crossed party lines to not only endorse, but appear in a TV ad on behalf of, the Democratic governor this campaign season.

Meanwhile, Nassau County GOP Chairman Joe Mondello will be hosting a luncheon fund-raiser for Cuomo’s opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, on Monday – the same day as the Balboni event.

Schneiderman Allies: Cahill Ad ‘Shameful’

Allies of Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Wednesday hit back against an ad released by his Republican rival John Cahill earlier in the day that took the AG to task for his office initially recommending the release of a convicted rapist.

The statements, released by the Schneiderman campaign, include criticisms of the ad from New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, NOW NYS President Zenaida Mendez, NARAL Pro-Choice New York President Andrea Miller and Laurel Eisner, the former executive director of Sanctuary for Families.

“John Cahill’s sinking campaign has officially hit rock bottom. Trivializing the safety of women with cheap partisan attacks is shameful and beneath the office he is seeking,” Mark Viverito said in her statement. “Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has an outstanding record fighting to protect women and has the backing of every major women’s organization that has endorsed in this race as well as law enforcement unions across the state.”

In the ad from Cahill’s campaign, Schneiderman is criticized for his office’s recommendation that Ronald Bower, who was convicted of sexual assaults dating back to the 1990s, should be released. The recommendation had been made by Thomas Schellhammer in December, who at the time was the chief of the Conviction Review Bureau.

In a letter Schellhammer raised questions with conviction in a letter to the state Parole Board.

Schneiderman’s campaign, though, pushed back against the allegations noting that the Parole Board is independent, while also pointing out the ad comes as Cahill trails the incumbent Democrat by 21 percentage points.

“In a desperate attempt to distract voters from his own anti-choice, anti-woman positions, John Cahill has attempted to discredit Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s lifelong commitment to improving the lives of New York women,” said Miller, of NARAL-Pro-Choice New York. “Attorney General Schneiderman is a stalwart pro-choice advocate – most recently, he has helped prevent harassment and intimidation outside women’s health clinics by fully enforcing clinic protection laws. There’s no fooling New York voters when it comes to the Attorney General’s record and leadership on the issues that matter most to us.”

Women’s issues in general have come to the forefront of the campaign season this year, with candidates on the state legislative level sparring over the Women’s Equality Act.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, created a ballot line to focus on the act, which has stalled in Albany over an abortion-related provision.

Cahill Promises A ‘Review’ Of Rockefeller Drug Laws

Republican AG candidate John Cahill on Tuesday pledged to review whether to bring back elements of the Rockefeller-era drug laws, which were mostly stripped away in 2009.

“We need to review the work that was done in 2009,” Cahill told reporters in Albany today. “I’m not suggesting that we incarcerate individuals who are found with simple possession. We need to go after those who are actively involved in the distribution and sale.”

Cahill has been touting a mutli-pronged approach to combating heroin that would include increased penalties for distributors as well as expanded treatment options.

Cahill added that he was happy that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman addressed allegations made by political gadfly and comedian Randy Credico to Fred Dicker that the incumbent Democrat used cocaine as a state senator in the mid-2000s.

Schneiderman’s campaign, along with guests at the party Credico alleges the incident to have happened, roundly denied any drug use. The organizer of the event called the claims by Credico “absurd.”

“I’m glad that he came out and addressed it,” Cahill said. “But it’s also true the attorney general has had a history of evolving stories. There has been a history of evolving stories with the attorney general’s office, but I am glad he came out and addressed it.”

Cahill also said he has never used illegal drugs himself, including marijuana and cocaine.

“Sorry, I didn’t,” he said. “Did I miss something?”

Cahill isn’t the only Republican talking about taking a new look at the stringent anti-drug laws.

Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss, said last week he would support revisiting a strengthening of the laws.


Cahill: Regulate Emerging Technologies, But Not Through ‘Subpoena Dumps’

Republican candidate for attorney general John Cahill on Tuesday said he would to build a regulatory framework for emerging companies like AirBnB and Uber, and criticized Democratic incumbent Eric Schneiderman for a “subpoena dump” of the former’s client list.

“There are issues with AirBnB, there are issues with all new emerging technologies,” Cahill said. “We need to have an AG who needs to understand that we have to develop new emerging technologies.”

Airbnb, along with other peer-to-peer sharing services like Lyft and Uber have drawn the scrutiny of state officials.

In Airbnb’s case, the company has been criticized by advocates for affordable housing as running unlicensed hotels, which they fear could drive up the cost of rent. At the same time, labor groups are uneasy with Airbnb’s skirting of occupancy laws.

Schneiderman’s office last year issued a subpoena for user data from AirBnB earlier this month, relying on a 2010 law that makes it illegal to rent out apartments.

Cahill today criticized that as a “subpoena dump” and said he would seek to come up with rules for governing the business model (The AG’s office has sought similar data from online services in the past, with success).

“We need to be more pro-active in working with those industries as opposed to doing subpoena dumps and not really understanding the ramifications it has with overall business development in this state,” Cahill said. “I would take a different approach.”

Updated: In a statement, Schneiderman campaign spokesman Peter Ajemian says the AG cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce.

“John Cahill may not understand this, but the Attorney General’s job is to enforce the laws of New York State — not to pick and choose the laws he likes. In this case, the law being enforced protects the quality of life of our neighborhoods and the physical safety of tourists, both of which are endangered by illegal hotel operators. Unlike Mr. Cahill, Attorney General Schneiderman believes in having one set of rules for everyone.”

Schneiderman Endorsed By Two PBAs

Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was endorsed Monday by a pair of law-enforcement unions.

Schneiderman, who is seeking a second term, received the nod from both the New York State Association of PBAs and the PBA of the City of New York.

The endorsements follow a TV ad from the AG’s campaign that highlight his office’s drug-enforcement efforts, playing up the criminal justice aspects of the post as he faces Republican John Cahill.

“Eric Schneiderman has consistently fought for the tools our members need to do their jobs safely and effectively,” said New York State Association of PBAs President Michael Palladino. “His Criminal Justice Bureau has stifled the spread of heroin and illegal guns, and his inVEST Partnership is securing hundreds of bulletproof vests for police departments in need. Eric Schneiderman knows how protect New York’s citizens as well as its officers.”

PBA of New York City President Patrick Lynch, meanwhile, praised Schneiderman in an endorsement letter for “proven track record and commitment to law enforcement.”

“I’m proud to have worked side by side with the members of the New York State Association of PBAs and the PBA of New York City over the last three and a half years, and I’m honored to have their endorsement today,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Together we’ll continue the fight to keep the public and our men and women in uniform safe, and ensure equal justice for all New Yorkers.”

Cahill, meanwhile, seized on a report in The New York Post today that quoted gadfly, activist and comedian Randy Credico, who alleges Schneiderman used cocaine in the mid-2000s at a since-defunct New York City night club. The Schneiderman campaign has called the allegations “laughable.”

Gillibrand Emails For Schneiderman

AG Eric Schneiderman is getting a boost in the final weeks of the general election campaign from New York’s junior US senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, who says a win by the Republicans next month would be “simply unacceptable.”

An email blast going out later this morning focuses on abortion rights – a wedge issue the Democratic candidates from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on down are again using to blast their GOP opponents in this Democrat-dominated state.

Gillibrand calls Schneiderman a “lifelong pro-choice advocate” and “the ONLY (her emphasis) candidate for Attorney General who represents the values of New York women, especially when it comes to reproductive rights.”

“As a public interest lawyer, Eric defended reproductive health clinic workers,” the senator wrote. “As a state senator, he led efforts to pass the Clinic Anti-Violence Act and a law requiring emergency contraception to be made available to victims of sexual assault.”

“As attorney general, he successfully fought to protect and expand buffer zones around health clinics so that families would be safe from intimidation and harassment.”

“And in response to the Supreme Court’s troubling Hobby Lobby ruling this year, Eric proposed the Reproductive Rights Disclosure Act to force employers to disclose to women if they plan to change their contraception coverage.”

“We need an attorney general who unequivocally supports a woman’s right to choose, and Eric is the only candidate in this race who meets that basic standard.”

Schneiderman’s Republican challenger, former Pataki administration official John Cahill, is a practicing Catholic who is personally opposed to abortion and has expressed opposition to the abortion rights plank of Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act.

But Cahill has also pledged to uphold the law regarding abortion if he’s elected attorney general on Nov. 4, as well as any other potentially controversial laws – including same-sex marriage.

Gillibrand’s email does not specifically mention Cahill by name.

League Of Conservation Voters Split Difference In AG’s Race

The League of Conservation Voters has endorsed both Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and his Republican opponent, John Cahill.

The group’s endorsements of both candidates come as Schneiderman also receives the nod from the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, an organization that’s been critical of Cahill.

Cahill, a former top aide to Gov. George Pataki, is a former commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation. Cahill has made a point in his campaign of playing up his record on the environment during the Pataki administration.

Schneiderman’s endorsement from the Sierra Club isn’t much of a surprise. The group has been pushing Cahill to release more information on his clients in the energy industry.