Attorney General

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.

TV Ad #2 for Schneiderman: Pro-Cop, Anti-Crime

With just over two weeks remaining in the 2014 campaign, Democratic AG Eric Schneiderman is starting to ramp up his TV presence, cashing in on the air time he reserved months ago.

Schneiderman’s campaign today will release his second TV ad, which has a dual focus – his crime-fighting efforts, and his program to use cash from civil forfeiture funds to help purchase bulletproof vests for cops around the state.

Schneiderman started what he dubbed the “inVEST” program after the federal government cut funding over the past three years for bulletproof vest purchases by local police departments.

The AG pledged to dedicate some $3.5 million to the program, which reimburses local law enforcement agencies up to 50 percent of the cost of new vests. (The federal money also comes in the form of a matching funds).

The program has already helped purchase close to 8,000 vests, according to Schneiderman’s campaign.

The AG’s Republican opponent, former Pataki administration official John Cahill, has pledged to return a more law-and-order focus to the office if he’s elected on Nov. 4. Throughout the campaign, Cahill has accused Schneiderman of being insufficiently tough on crime – an accusation the AG’s campaign deemed “desperate.”

The Schneiderman campaign also likes to remind reporters that the AG has broad support from the law enforcement community, and has been endorsed by a variety of police unions across the state.

Cahill has the support of the State Troopers PBA, in part due to his opposition of the AG’s move to unseal documents about the 1971 Attica prison riot.

Recent public opinion polls have showed Cahill gaining on Schneiderman, though the AG continues to maintain a double-digit lead over his Republican rival. Schneiderman has a 25-to-1 cash advantage over Cahill.

That fact, coupled with the AG’s forward-thinking strategy of reserving $3 million worth of air time for the final weeks of the campaign, will enable him to blitz the airwaves and raise his name recognition just in time for Election Day in a way Cahill cannot.

Schneiderman’s new ad, which appears below, will run through Election Day. His first ad, called “One Set of Rules,” is still on the air, too.

Here’s the script of the new ad:

“Gridlock in Washington blocked funding for bulletproof vests for our police officers. As a New Yorker, I was outraged. As attorney general, I did something about it.

We’ve paid for bulletproof vests for close to 8,000 police officers across the state and funded it with money my office seized from drug gangs and criminals we’ve locked up.

Taking criminals off our streets and keeping our cops safe. There’s nothing more important.”

Slaughter, Higgins Endorse Schneiderman

Two western New York congressional members on Wednesday endorsed Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s re-election.

Schneiderman recevied the nods from Democratic Reps. Louise Slaughter and Brian Higgins, whose districts including the Rochester and Buffalo areas, respectively.

“Eric Schneiderman is the people’s lawyer, fighting for equal justice for all New Yorkers,” Higgins said in a statement. “From prosecuting debt collectors that took advantage of military personnel to securing the largest heroin bust in the Western New York history. New Yorkers can count on Eric to fight for them. I’m proud to support his re-election for Attorney General.”

Slaughter in her statement said Schneiderman has held officials in both Albany and Washington “accountable.”

“I’m proud to endorse Eric Schneiderman for re-election,” she said. “We must hold elected leaders in Albany and Washington accountable and Eric has been a key partner in that effort.”

Schneiderman faces Republican John Cahill next month for a second term.

Schneiderman To Be Endorsed By Teamsters

From the Morning Memo:

The Teamsters Joint Council 16 will announce later this morning its endorsement of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for a second term.

It’s not wholly surprising the incumbent Democrat would receive the backing of the organization, given its ties to the Working Families Party.

But with the endorsement comes important field and advertising infrastructure in the final weeks of the general election.

Schneiderman, who faces Republican John Cahill, will benefit from a coordinated operation from the labor group, including phone banks, canvassing and direct mail in effort to drive union members to the polls next month.

“I’m proud to endorse Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for re-election,” Joint Council 16 President George L. Miranda said in a statement. “Since he took office, he’s proven himself to be a tireless champion for working men and women. He has gone after unscrupulous employers who cheated their employees out of hard-earned wages, and to date he’s recovered more than $18 million for 14,000 workers and their families. He’s helped thousands of homeowners avoid foreclosure, and forced bad landlords to make repairs for tenants living in deplorable conditions. Eric makes sure everyone plays by the same rules, and we need him as our Attorney General.”