Attorney General

Schneiderman, Bharara Team Up On Bank Settlement

The Bank of New York Mellon has agreed to a $714 million settlement with the state and federal governments following investigations stemming from fraudulent foreign-exchange practices, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced on Thursday.

New York state and the Department of Justice are each is in line to receive $167.5 million from the settlement.

As part of the settlement, the bank has agreed to acknowledge details of fraud and will terminate the employment of executives involved in the scheme, along with promises of improving their practices.

Schneiderman’s office plans to return the state’s share to victims of the fraud. Both the state deferred compensation plan and SUNY were customers of Bank of New York Mellon and were defrauded, the attorney general’s office said.

The joint effort from Schneiderman and Bharara comes as both men have made efforts to clean up the Albany’s ethics.

Bharara, of course, has made multiple high-profile corruption cases and last month successfully sought the indictment of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Bharara, who is probing the shutdown of the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, has been critical in recent weeks of Albany’s budget-making process, including the “three-men-in-a-room” negotiating structure.

Schneiderman, meanwhile, this week gave a speech before the good-government group Citizens Union urging ethics reform measures and encouraged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to not compromise on the issue.

Schneiderman To Cuomo: Don’t Compromise On Ethics

In speech at Citizens Union in New York City on Monday evening, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to not compromise on ethics reform in the state budget, saying a late spending plan “would be a small price to pay.”

And as Cuomo seeks to tie spending to his ethics measures — which would require new disclosure for state lawmakers as well as have them submit receipts for travel reimbursement — Schneiderman is calling the tactic perfectly legal.

“The Governor has proposed to enact some reforms through this year’s State budget,” Schneiderman said in the speech, according to his prepared remarks. “We should support his leadership in using this perfectly constitutional mechanism. In fact, I would urge the Governor to hold out for even bolder reforms, including the proposals I have outlined tonight. In doing so, he would have the support of both the Constitution and the people of the State of New York.”

But aside from siding with Cuomo over his scuffle with state lawmakers over his budgetary tactics, the speech from Schneiderman was a call for not compromising on reforming Albany as ethics
continue to dominate the political landscape at the Capitol.

“The people of this great state demand comprehensive, fundamental reform,” Schneiderman said. “They deserve nothing less.”

Calls for more ethics reform were renewed this year following the arrest of longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on corruption charges.

A host of reform measures have been called for, ranging from term limits to capping outside income of state lawmakers as well as strengthened disclosure requirements.

Meanwhile, the attorney general also laid out his own vision for stemming the tide of corruption in state government and politics.

In the address, Schneiderman calls for four-year legislative terms for state lawmakers as opposed to two-year terms.

He endorsed a complete ban on outside income, along with a pay raise for legislators “between what New York City Council members and members of Congress are currently paid.”

Schneiderman called for an end to per diem payments and a cap on travel reimbursements as well as equitable office allocations for lawmakers and staff.

On campaign finance reform, Schneiderman called for a ban on unlimited political giving through limited liability corporations, ending soft money or “housekpeeing” committees and public matching funds for campaigns.

He also spoke derisively of previous ethics reform efforts that have fallen short, including an agreement in last year’s state budget that created new anti-corruption laws as well as an independent enforcement counsel at the Board of Elections.

“It looks, to the people of New York State, like one charade after another,” Schneiderman said. “Sadly, every time incremental reforms have been called ‘sweeping’ or ‘groundbreaking’—billed as a solution to the problem—those words have been proven false. In fact, the primary impact of many highly touted, marginal reforms has been to allow business as usual to continue.”

Schneiderman as a state senator sought to pass an ethics package which was ultimately vetoed by then-Gov. David Paterson who asserted it didn’t go far enough.

“This bill does nothing but good,” he said at the time. “To veto it because it doesn’t do everything sends the wrong message.”

But much of today’s remarks, which included praise for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, appeared aimed at Cuomo, who has over the last five years touted his ability to compromise with state lawmakers on just about any issue, including ethics reform legislation.

The lack of compromise on ethics legislation in 2013 led to the formation of the Moreland Commission On Public Corruption, which was disbanded less than a year later following an agreement on anti-corruption measures in the budget.

Bharara has opened an inquiry on the circumstances of the commission shutting down and Cuomo’s office has come under scrutiny for its reported involvement in the commission. The U.S. attorney has been subsequently critical of Albany’s budget-making process and the “three-men-in-a-room” meetings.

The speech will likely do little to further the chilly relationship between Cuomo and Schneiderman, who have publicly disagreed over a variety of issues in the last five years.

Schneiderman pointedly makes note of Cuomo declining to grant the attorney general’s office broader power in going after public corruption.

“I have asked Governor Cuomo to grant a general referral: a standing order to investigate and prosecute any case of public corruption, which he supported when he was Attorney General, and which, as Governor, he can grant me with the stroke of a pen,” Schneiderman said. “My request was denied.”

AG Backed Email Purge Policy Before Rejecting It

Also from the Morning Memo:

AG Eric Schneiderman raised eyebrows and won praise yesterday after he decided to suspend the controversial 90-day email purge policy that has existed in his office since at least 2007 (or maybe even longer) and directed his counsel to come up with a new email retention policy.

The announcement came after several state lawmakers introduced legislation that would create a new email retention policy for the state, requiring that online communications be preserved for at least seven years – much like how the federal government currently operates.

About two hours after news of Schneiderman’s suspension broke, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s chief spokeswoman, Melissa DeRosa, issued a statement announcing the governor will “convene a meeting” with representations from the Legislature, and the AG and state comptroller to come up with a uniform email and FOIL policy that applies to all state officials and agencies.

Cuomo did not, however, follow Schneiderman’s lead in suspending the current – and much-maligned – purge policy, which he has implemented across executive agencies, while he and other officials try to figure out a better way to address the retention issue.

There has been a lot of finger pointing involved with this issue – especially as the subject of preserving emails and making them public has become a very hot topic, thanks to the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server based in her Westchester County home to conduct public business while she was secretary of state.

While it appeared that Schneideman’s office was merely continuing a policy put in place by his predecessors, internal documents obtained through a FOIL request indicate that’s not actually the case.

First – a word about the timeline on the 90-day purge policy. According to the AG’s office, it had been in place since 2007, which was the first year Cuomo served as AG.

But a 2007 memo to members of the AG staff on email retention and disposition policy indicates the effort to manage email retention actually dates back to at least 2005, which was when Eliot Spitzer was in charge of the office.

That same memo says the AG’s office was guided by general policies established by the state Archives and then-Gov. Spitzer, whose former top aides have (anonymously) disputed that a policy permanently deleting emails after a 90-day period ever existed.

“Former Attorney General Spitzer attempted to streamline the system in 2005 by reducing allowable megabytes. That method proved too difficult to implement,” the memo states.

“As Governor, he is now modernizing the e-mail communication system by imposing a 90-day time limit for retention of e-mails. We are conforming our policy to match that of the Executive.”

At the time, officials were concerned that saving too many emails would result in an “overloaded and underproductive” system and a volume that “overwhelms the capacity of our technology.”

Considerable advancements have been made on that front, with nearly unlimited storage space for online documents now readily available and also affordable.

According to a 2014 memo, the AG’s office took a hiatus from the 90-day purge policy that lasted about three years, thanks to a switch from GroupWise to Microsoft Outlook.

In May 2014, the office decided to re-implement the policy, noting that agencies statewide had adopted it under now-Gov. Cuomo, and the AG’s office was “ready to move back to this best practice.”

“Although retaining emails in Outlook can be a convenient way to store information for future reference, it is not a sustainable document management approach,” reads the memo to the AG’s staff from his chief operating officer, Shanti Nayak.

“Today, OAG is storing vast amounts of email data on our servers. This is difficult to manage at both the individual and organizational level, is slowing down our email systems and is causing us to retain many emails that do not need to be preserved under law.”

Nayak’s memo also notes that under this system, all litigation holds – automatically preserved by the AG’s IT department without action necessary by individual users – would continue.

Cuomo to Convene Email & FOIL Policy Confab

In the wake of AG Eric Schneiderman’s announcement that he is suspending the controversial 90-day email purge policy put in place by his predecessor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the governor’s spokeswoman announced he will “convene a meeting” with representatives of the Legislature and fellow statewide elected officials to come up with a uniform email and FOIL policy that applies to all of them.

Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa reminded everyone in a statement released early this evening that the email policy in question – for which the governor has been weathering considerable criticism – was put in place in 2007 by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer and “expanded” to include the AG’s office (held by Cuomo at the time) that same year.

“We believe the policy should honor transparency while maintaining efficiency,” DeRosa continued. “To that end, as the Attorney General and the legislature appear open to revising their policies, the Governor’s office will convene a meeting with representatives from the legislature, the Attorney General and the Comptroller to come up with one uniform email retention and FOIL policy that applies to all State officials and agencies.”

(For the record, while the AG’s office did adopt the purge policy, the state comptroller’s office did not, and, according to his office, neither storage nor slowness caused by too many emails clogging the system has never been a problem).

Hours before Schneiderman’s announcement, several members of the Legislature introduced email retention policy legislation – most of it based on the federal government’s policy, which requires emails to be preserved for at least seven years.

The Cuomo administration has suggested that if this issue is going to be broached, it should also include discussion of making the Legislature subject to FOIL, which it currently is not. The bill proposed by Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell and Sen. Liz Krueger, both Manhattan Democrats, does just that.

Another bill proposed by Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, a Bronx Democrat, addresses issues raised by the Hillary Clinton email scandal by requiring state officials to use government email accounts – not personal accounts – for official business.

DeRosa did not set a timeline for the email/FOIL meeting. But the governor is clearly trying to get out from under an issue that has generated a lot of negative attention, thanks in part to the greater-than-usual interest in all things email-related, thanks to the revelation that Clinton used a private server based in her Westchester County home for emails when she was serving as secretary of state. Earlier this week, Clinton finally held a press conference to address the controversy, and revealed she and her team had deleted some 30,000 emails deemed “private and personal.”

Clinton said that she had used her private system out of “convenience,” and admitted that using two different phones – one for private communication, the other for business (and, in her case, national security matters) – would have been smarter. “I thought one device would be simpler; obviously, it hasn’t worked out that way,” she said.

Cuomo’s Email Purge Policy Dates To AG Days

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press office is busy downplaying the governor’s controversial 90-day email purge policy, saying the practice has been in place in the executive chamber – albeit not enforced across executive agencies – since 2007.

In other words, since before Cuomo took office in January 2011.

That would mean this policy was established under former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who was elected in 2006 and knew a little something about the power of an email trail from his days in the AG’s office.

And speaking of the AG’s office, it turns out the executive branch isn’t the place where the 90-day purge policy exists.

The NYS Department of Law, currently headed by AG Eric Schneiderman, adopted that selfsame policy way back in 2007 – in other words, the year Cuomo succeeded Spitzer in the AG’s office.

An AG office source confirmed Schneiderman opted to keep the email deletion policy put in place by Cuomo. According to this source, the office maintains “any emails that may be relevant to litigation – including the discovery process of a potential or ongoing case.”

Asked how the AG’s office determines which emails, exactly, are going to be pertinent in yet-unknown future lawsuits, and what is kept, the source replied:

Anything that could constitute as evidence in the discovery process – emails from clients regarding a case, minutes of meetings, documents that initiative or complete a business transaction, final reports. It’s not an automatic ‘hold’ per se, but the lawyers follow this closely – otherwise their investigations and cases would be hampered.

Meanwhile, the state comptroller’s office is also reviewing Cuomo’s 90-day purge policy with an eye toward determining if any of its functions – namely, investigations and audits – will be negatively impacted.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman noted that email trails are often used by investigators to catch government officials engaged in wrongdoing, and if those trails are no longer available, it could curtail corruption-busting probes.

DiNapoli’s office does not have an email purge policy, and has “no intention” of following Cuomo’s policy, Freeman said.

Any email deleted by a staffer in the comptroller’s office is backed up for two weeks, and all executive and senior staff members have been afforded “extensive” amounts of storage space to avoid having to delete anything that might be of value sometime down the road.

“There’s no way storage is an issue,” Freeman said. “It’s cheap.”

Freeman said DiNapoli has both private and state-issued emails accounts, and sometimes uses the former for public business. When the comptroller first took office, he was issued a public account and was “blasted” with emails, Freeman explained. As a result, multiple email accounts were established for the comptroller, with some of his work emails monitored by his assistants.

Schneiderman To Re-Introduce ‘Expanded’ Zombie Property Bill

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Monday announced plans to re-introduce an expanded version of a measure designed to address vacant and abandoned homes undergoing foreclosure proceedings.

The bill, aimed at addressing “zombie” properties would seek to reduce the number of abandoned properties in a state of disrepair by informing residents of their right to stay at the home until a court order to is issued requiring them to do so.

At the same time, the bill would require lenders to maintain and secure vacant properties earlier in the process of foreclosure. A registry of properties undergoing foreclosure would also be made available to local governments that enforce property maintenance laws.

“Leaving zombie properties to rot is unfair to municipalities and unfair to neighbors, who pay their taxes and maintain their homes,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “In the next two weeks, my office will resubmit to the Legislature our bill that would require banks to take responsibility for maintaining properties much earlier in the foreclosure process, take that burden off of towns and cities, and allow local governments to more easily identify the mortgagees of these properties to make sure they maintain them. And as my office enforces the requirement that banks take responsibility for these properties, any fines we levy will go into a fund to help towns and cities hire more code enforcement officers.”

The bill is expected to be sponsored by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and Sen. Jeff Klein, Democrats both.

Schneiderman Unveils Cyber Privacy Measure

Legislation aimed at strengthen the state’s online privacy regulations will be introduced by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, his office on Thursday announced.

The legislation would be aimed at requiring entities to create data security measures for consumer information.

At the moment, companies are only required to notify impacted individuals if their information is compromised by a data breach. That doesn’t include sensitive information such as email addresses, passwords, security questions, medical history and health insurance data.

Schneiderman’s measure would seek to encourage businesses to create a “safe harbor” for those companies that meet security standards in order to have them create protections protecting personal data.

The proposal comes after several prominent data breaches at retail companies, including Target and Lowe’s.

“With some of the largest-ever data breaches occurring in just the last year, it’s long past time we updated our data security laws and expanded protections for consumers. We must also remind ourselves that companies can be victims, and that those who take responsible steps to safeguard customer data deserve recognition and protection,” Schneiderman said. “Our new law will be the strongest, most comprehensive in the nation. Let’s act now to make our state a national model for data privacy and security.”

Schneiderman’s measure would expand the definition of what private information constitutes, including passwords and security questions as well as email data, based on a similar measure put in place by California.

The bill would also encourage companies to put in place administrative safeguards and have them train employees on protecting data as well as the physical disposal of data.

The proposal won the backing of Kathy Wylde, the CEO of the business group, Partnership for New York City.

“Employers and consumers are equal victims when there is a breach of cyber security,” she said. “The Attorney General’s willingness to create a better process for preventing illegal cyber activities merits support from business and the public at large.”

Siena Poll: New Yorkers Back AG As Special Prosector

A majority of New Yorkers support giving Attorney General Eric Schneiderman the power to investigate other instances of police brutality, a Siena College poll released on Friday found.

The poll found that by a 58 percent to 33 percent margin, New Yorkers would back giving Schneiderman the power of special prosecutor to probe other instances of police brutality after a grand jury chose to not indict a New York police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

“A majority of Democrats, independents, voters from every region and race agree that the Attorney General and not local district attorneys should have authority in cases where unarmed civilians are killed by police officers, although Democrats, New York City voters, blacks and Latinos feel most strongly about this,” Siena College pollster Steve Greenberg said. “Only majorities of Republicans and conservatives think people of color are treated fairly by our criminal justice system. Two-thirds of Democrats and a plurality of independents disagree, as do a majority of downstaters, particularly New York City, and people of color. Whites and upstaters are closely divided.”

Scheniderman this month requested Gov. Andrew Cuomo issue an executive order granting him the special prosecutors role.

So far, Cuomo has said he’s reviewing the request, but raised questions with how broad the scope of those investigative powers should be.

The poll found that 55 percent of New Yorkers believe the grand jury should have made an indictment in the case, which has set off a wave of protests across the country and sparked a discussion over criminal justice reform legislation at the state level.

Meanwhile, most New Yorkers 52 percent to 35 percent believe the state’s criminal justice system does not treat people of color fairly.

Broken down politically, Republican voters by a 2-to-1 margin believe the grand jury was correct in not indicting Garner.

“Similarly, large majorities of Democrats, New York City voters, blacks, Latinos and younger voters want the Feds to bring civil rights charges, while Republicans are opposed, and upstaters, suburbanites, white and older voters are closely divided,” Greenberg said.

Cuomo himself has suggested he will push for a variety of criminal justice reforms, including greater transparencies for grand juries as well as strengthening police training and requiring some officers to wear body cameras.

The governor’s administration this week moved to ban hydrofracking in the state, but the poll found New Yorkers remain divided on the natural gas drilling issue.

Thirty-eight percent of voters say they are opposed to fracking, while 35 percent of those polled back the drilling method.

“Fracking has closely divided New Yorkers for several years. And while it has the intuitive partisan divide with Democrats opposing and Republicans supporting, from a regional perspective the results might be a little counterintuitive as New York City and upstate voters narrowly oppose fracking and a plurality of downstate suburbanites support it,” Greenberg said.

Similarly, New Yorkers are split on the DREAM Act, which would provide tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants. Forty-four percent of New Yorkers back the measure, while 48 percent do not. Cuomo will likely once again be under pressure from liberals in the Legislature to include funding for the DREAM Act in his state budget proposal.

A broad majority of New Yorkers continue to support Cuomo’s two-year-old gun control law known as the SAFE Act, but they are split along partisan lines.

By a margin of 58 percent to 33 percent, New Yorkers back the law, which Cuomo has said remains a significant legislative achievement for him.

The measure has the support of 69 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents, 67 percent of voters from New York City and 61 percent from the downstate suburbs. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans oppose the law.

And not surprisingly, there is widespread opposition to a pay raise for state lawmakers: 63 percent of those polled do not believe the Senate and Assembly should receive their first salary increase since 1998.

That sentiment cuts across party, geographic, gender and ideological lines.

Cuomo has said he is sympathetic to lawmakers who are pushing for the pay hike from the current $79,500, but has sought to have them enact sweeping ethics and campaign finance legislation, including the creation of a system of public financed campaigns and curtailing outside income.

For now, there has been no significant move to have lawmakers return to Albany in a special session to take up that legislation and vote themselves a raise.

The Siena College of 639 voters was conducted from Dec. 11 through Dec. 16. It has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.

SNY1214 Crosstabs by Nick Reisman

WFP Sides With AG on Special Prosecutor Ask

From the Morning Memo:

The labor-backed Working Families Party, which just closed another tumultuous chapter in its relationship with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is backing Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s request for the power to investigate and prosecute unarmed civilian deaths at the hands of police officers.

WFP leaders have been outspoken in their opposition to the Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to bring charges against NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner this past summer.

Last night, WFP State Director Bill Lipton sent an email to party supporters, urging them to sign an online petition calling on Cuomo to grant the AG’s request for an executive order that would give his office authority over a small number of police abuse cases.

“It’s a sensible and critical first step to help make sure victims of police violence in New York and their families receive the justice they deserve,” Lipton wrote.

“…The failure of grand juries to indict the officers under investigation both in this case and in Ferguson demands that we take action.

We need major changes to our criminal justice system, but we also can’t wait months for the state legislature to reconvene and consider them.”

“That’s why Attorney General Schneiderman has asked for temporary authority from Gov. Cuomo to investigate cases involving the killings of unarmed civilians by police. Doing so would be a critical first step in ensuring fair investigations, and helping to build confidence while we all continue the fight for more far-reaching reforms.”

Schneiderman has said he only wants this power temporarily, and believes it will “compel” the Legislature and Cuomo to act on long term reforms of the criminal justice system.

On the day the AG issued his call, Cuomo’s office said only that his request was being reviewed.

Yesterday, the governor made his first public comments on the matter, and seemed lukewarm on Schneiderman’s idea, saying there are many unanswered questions about how a special prosecutor would operate.

“What power? When? That’s an option, but you have to answer the first questions first,” Cuomo said of the AG’s request.

“When? Shootings?…What about Eric Garner, he wasn’t shot. Well, anytime someone dies. So, beatings don’t count? It has to be thought through thoroughly.”

“If anything, I think the AG’s proposal was narrower. He was saying only in cases of shootings or death,” Cuomo continued. “I could argue that you want to go broader. Why just shootings? It doesn’t cover the Eric Garner case?”

To be clear, the AG’s request does not cover only shootings by police.

Earlier this week, Cuomo’s office confirmed he had either met with or talked to rap and hip hop moguls Jay Z and Russell Simmons to discuss criminal justice reform.

But despite Simmons’ claim to the contrary, Cuomo insisted no decisions have yet been made about appointing a special prosecutor to handle alleged police brutality cases.

Simmons and Cuomo have a long-standing relationship that dates back to the days when they were both lobbying for Rockefeller Drug Law reform. (That would be during Cuomo’s rebuilding phase – after his failed 2002 gubernatorial bid, but before his successful 2006 AG campaign).

Simmons actually came to the state Capitol via helicopter in 2003 for a lengthy closed-door meeting on the subject with then-Republican Gov. George Pataki, then-Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Simmons’ drug law reform efforts drew scrutiny, and also sparked a lawsuit following an inquiry into his organization’s actions by the (now defunct) Lobbying Commission.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time since the elections that the WFP has clashed with Cuomo.

The party was not shy is expressing its disappointment with the governor for – in its opinion – failing to live up to his end of their endorsement deal by helping the Democrats retake the Senate majority. (That’s a charge Cuomo has denied).

The WFP recently teamed up with Cuomo’s Democratic primary opponent, Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout, in a campaign against the wealthy hedge fund managers/charter school backers who spent millions to help the Senate GOP win control of the chamber and also donated generously to Cuomo.

AG Backs Special Session For Police Reform Action

From the Morning Memo:

Though he is seeking short-term jurisdiction over cases in which unarmed civilians are killed by police officers, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he believes the governor and lawmakers should act sooner rather than later to reform the entire criminal justice system.

“I think a special session would be great,” the AG said during a CapTon interview last night. “I think it’s important to show that we take this seriously, to address it.”

“We are ambitious and we have been for a long time,” Schneiderman continued. “I think it’s important for us to show leadership on this issue…this is not a situation where we don’t have empirical evidence on what criminal justice policy is. We have it; we just have to follow it.”

Schneiderman later said he sees the current conversation sparked by the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases as a “national movement” for change, adding: “I think we need clarity, and I think we need action. And this is action we can take now.

Schneiderman has said that the executive order he’s seeking from Cuomo giving his officer the power to investigate and prosecute these cases should expire when the governor and legislative leaders reach a reform agreement.

The AG said that he believes the changes should be widespread because “the law in this area is messed up beyond what most New Yorkers understand.”

But he declined to say specifically what should be done, refusing to take a position on any of the bills that already exist or legislation floated in the wake of the Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to bring criminal charges against an NYPD officer in Garner’s chokehold death.

The AG also refused to say whether he supports the grand jury decision.

“I’m passing no judgement on that, and honestly, I think it’s unfair for anyone to pass judgement on that because we don’t know what happened in the grand jury,” he explained.

Schneiderman said his request, which Cuomo’s office has under review, will “compel the Legislature to act,” though he also noted change is often slow to come to Albany – especially on controversial issues like police training and oversight.

The AG said communication between himself and the governor on this issue has so far been limited to the staff level. He also defended his decision not to give a heads-up to the state’s district attorneys before going public with his request, insisting that he did not intend to offend or impugn them.

Schneiderman is not alone is saying this issue should be dealt with in a special session – should one occur between now and the regularly scheduled session in January.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins yesterday said she hopes no special will take place without addressing grand jury and police reforms – an about-face from her comments on CapTon last week, when she said she didn’t believe there was enough time to put together any agreements.

The Senate Democrats have proposed appointing a special prosecutor to review any deaths of unarmed civilians involving police officers. They are also calling for additional funding in the 2015-16 budget for police body cameras.

Stewart-Cousins said she could support the AG’s request for jurisdiction until a long-term legislative solution can be found.