Aug 18th - 3:44 pm
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Thursday continued to question the legitimacy of a review by House Republicans into an investigation over whether ExxonMobile understated the impact of climate change.
In letter sent to the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Schneiderman’s office called on the panel to include Democratic lawmakers into the review.
Up until this point, Democratic members of the panel haven’t been part of the committee’s investigation into the climate change case, nor did they vote to subpoena records related to the efforts by Schneiderman’s office and other attorneys general around the country.
“Accordingly, the NYOAG requests the Minority Staff be included on all correspondence from and substantive communication with the Committee and its staff,” Schneiderman’s office wrote in the letter. “The NYOAG remains available to speak with committee staff, so long as Minority Staff is not excluded from such discussions.”
The letter also questions why a congressional committee would subpoena a state attorney general for an ongoing investigation, something Schneiderman’s office says is unprecedented.
Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairman of the committee, has questioned whether the investigation into ExxonMobile was urged by environmental activists groups and is reviewing whether they played any role in launching it.
Aug 15th - 1:08 pm
The attorney general of Maryland last week sent a letter to the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee urging him to end a review of investigations being conducted by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman into ExxonMobile Corp.
House Republicans have sought records from both Schneiderman and the offices of the Massachusetts and Maryland attorneys general pertaining to the probe of whether ExxonMobile understated the impact of climate change from its operations.
In the letter to Rep. Lamar Smith, Frosh writes the House inquiry into the investigation is interfering with the work of the state attorneys general.
“Our colleagues in Massachusetts and New York, as the chief legal officers in their states, have a right to gather information necessary to determine whether a company has engaged in fraudulent or misleading conduct harmful to the residents of their respective states,” said Maryland Attorney General Frosh.
“Chairman Smith’s threat to ‘conduct vigorous oversight’ of Attorneys General who are investigating violations of consumer and securities laws is an attack on the sovereignty of the states.”
Schneiderman and his fellow AGs have refused to cooperate with subpoenas issued by the House panel.
Smith has pushed for the investigation of the attorneys generals’ handling of the ExxonMobile case, suggesting they are being unduly influenced by environmental activist groups.
Aug 4th - 3:30 pm
Six of the seven companies ordered by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office to end their practice of marketing their products as “Zika-preventive” have changed their advertising following cease and desist letters.
Schniederman on Thursday announced the marketing claims had been altered, a day after the attorney general’s office publicly pushed for the changes.
The companies that manufacturer mosquito repellent had claimed their products would protect users from contracting the Zika virus, but were not effective for that purpose.
“I am pleased that the action my office undertook has led to the immediate removal of nearly all the deceptive Zika-related claims that we targeted,” Schneiderman said.
“We won’t let fraudsters take advantage of a public health crisis, and this should serve as a warning to other companies who seek to engage in the same dishonest practices. I urge consumers to educate themselves about the repellents that will actually protect you against Zika to avoid being fooled by these outrageous scams.”
Schneiderman’s office said some of the companies complying with the cease and desist letters have removed their products from being sold online.
Jul 13th - 12:15 pm
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Monday blasted the effort by a Republican-led congressional committee to subpoena documents related to an investigation by the state into ExxonMobil.
In the letter to Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairmna of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, a top counsel to Schneiderman reiterated the attorney general’s office won’t comply with a threatened subpoena, insisting claims the AG is trying to concoct an alternative purpose for the investigation is “demonstrably false.”
The counsel, Leslie Dubeck, also wrote the documents from the attorney general’s office won’t be handed over voluntarily.
At the same time, Dubeck questioned why Republicans were becoming involved in a state-based investigation.
“Finally, we urge you to heed Ranking Member Johnson’s request and provide an opportunity for all Committee members to express their views before issuing a subpoena and courting constitutional conflict,” the letter states. “Certainly a due respect for federalism would at least demand that a representative from Texas, acting on his own, not be allowed to compel action from a constitutional officer of a sovereign state.”
Schneiderman’s office also sought to point out what New York officials believe are contradictions in why the House committee is demanding the information related to the ExxonMobil probe.
Schneiderman, along with attorneys general from around the country, announced plans in March to investigate whether the oil company misled investors when making claims about climate change.
Jun 27th - 11:52 am
A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a Texas measure that could have led to the closure of dozens of abortion clinics in the state was hailed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement.
The ruling released on Monday in a 5-3 decision is being considered by advocates on both sides of the abortion debate as one of the most consequential in a generation from the high court.
Schneiderman had previously submitted a friend-of-the-court brief along with 13 other states and the District of Columbia in opposing the Texas law, which could have reduced the number of facilities providing abortion services in the state from 41 to 10.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision striking down Texas’s unconstitutional and disingenuous abortion restrictions is a landmark victory for women’s health and definitively rejects the state of Texas’s spurious claims that their draconian restrictions protected women’s health,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
“This ruling, the most significant abortion decision in a generation, puts states on notice that they cannot adopt restrictions that unduly burden or deny a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.”
The Texas regulations governing buildings, equipment and staffing, as well as requiring doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, have already been credited with the closure of half the clinics in the state.
Jun 15th - 11:01 am
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Wednesday announced his office had reached a settlement with Law360 to end the practice of non-compete agreements for the vast majority of its employees.
The settlement for Law360, which is a subsidiary of LexisNexis, will not longer require editorial employees sign on to non-compete agreements, which prevented them for one year after leaving the company to work for a media outlet that provides legal news for up to one year.
“Unless an individual has highly unique skills or access to trade secrets, non-compete clauses have no place in a worker’s employment contract,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
“Unscrupulous non-compete agreements not only threaten workers seeking to change jobs, they also serve as a veiled threat to employers who may be reluctant to hire candidates due to the mere existence of a non-compete agreement. Workers like the reporters at Law360 should be able to change jobs and advance their careers without fear of being sued by their prior employer.”
The agreement does not apply to a “small number” of top executives at the company, and Law360 is expected to notify all current employees and those who left within the last year the non-compete clauses are no longer in effect.
May 26th - 4:18 pm
An office used by a law firm that had employed lobbyist Todd Howe at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany was searched on Thursday by investigators from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office amid investigations in economic development projects in New York, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
SUNY Poly confirmed the search in a statement.
“SUNY Poly cooperated fully today with the NYAG’s office request to search an office previously used by Todd Howe at our Albany campus,” SUNY Poly said in a statement. “We continue to cooperate fully with their investigation.“
The raid was first reported by Gannett’s Albany bureau.
The AG’s office has been investigating possible bid rigging at SUNY Poly’s development arm, Fuller Road Management.
Howe is an intersecting figure in the ongoing state and federal investigations into economic development projects, including the signature western New York effort known as the Buffalo Billion.
Howe had represented a number of companies with business before the Buffalo Billion and was listed as a lobbyist for SUNY Poly, which plays a key role in distributing economic development spending.
A former aide and confidant to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Joe Percoco, is under scrutiny as well after it was revealed he received payments from two companies with business in economic development projects while running the governor’s re-election campaign.
On Wednesday, the state Public Authorities Control Board approved an additional $485.5 million in spending for a cornerstone Buffalo Billion project at the RiverBend site, home to a SolarCity plant.
Cuomo has retained an independent investigator to review contracting and investigate the program.
May 24th - 11:42 am
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Tuesday the filing of a lawsuit against Domino’s Pizz and its franchise subsidiary alleging the company underpaid workers by at least $565,000 at ten stores in the state.
The lawsuit also includes three Domino’s franchisees.
The suit is the result of a multi-year investigation by Schneiderman’s office into pay at the chain restaurant, finding the company urged franchisees to use payroll reports from their computer system even though they knew it would under calculate gross wages.
Domino’s makes updates to the payroll program each year, but did not fix what Schneiderman calls flaws in the system that resulted in the underpayments.
“At some point, a company has to take responsibility for its actions and for its workers’ well-being. We’ve found rampant wage violations at Domino’s franchise stores. And, as our suit alleges, we’ve discovered that Domino’s headquarters was intensely involved in store operations, and even caused many of these violations,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
“Under these circumstances, New York law – as well as basic human decency – holds Domino’s responsible for the alleged mistreatment of the workers who make and deliver the company’s pizza. Domino’s can, and must, fix this problem.”
The AG’s office has previously settled cases with 12 Domino’s franchisees who own 61 stores, with those owners agreeing to pay $1.5 million so far.
The suit also includes allegations of fraud and franchise law claims stemming in part from the computerized payroll program.
May 19th - 3:14 pm
More than a dozen House Republicans this week are calling on Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to turn over documents generated for an investigation into Exxon Mobil and the company’s impact on the environment.
“The Committee is concerned that these efforts to silence speech are based on political theater rather than legal or scientific arguments, and that they run counter to an attorney general’s duty to serve ‘as the guardian of the legal rights of the citizens’ and to ‘assert, protect, and defend the rights of the people,’” the letter from the House Science, Space and Technology Committee states. “These legal actions may even amount to an abuse of prosecutorial discretion.”
Attorneys general in 16 other states were sent similar letters as were eight environmental organizations.
The request is under review by Schneiderman’s office, but was blasted on Thursday by his office, calling it “remarkable that a do-nothing congress” on climate change is trying to divert attention from the investigation.
“The irony of this letter is breathtaking, as its signatories appear to be part of a multi-pronged media campaign funded by the fossil fuel industry aimed at suppressing the free exchange of ideas among scientists, academics, and responsible law enforcement,” said Schneiderman spokesman Eric Soufer. “New York will continue to work with and collaborate with its colleagues across the country, and those with expertise in this area, to protect its citizens from fraud.”
The letter from the House committee is seeking communications between Schneiderman’s office and environmental groups as well as interactions with AGs around the country related to the investigation as well as the Department of Justice.
May 10th - 3:59 pm
As Attorney General Eric Schneiderman assumes oversight of an investigation into the shooting death of a Troy man by police, he said on Tuesday his office was not trying to make an example out of District Attorney Joel Abelove.
Abelove, whose office initially presented the case to a grand jury and returned no bill for the officer who shot Edson Thevenin, was sued by Schneiderman, who was empowered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to investigate incidents in which civilians die in interactions with police.
In the days after the lawsuit was filed, Abelove’s office later struck an agreement with Schneiderman to pursue the investigation into the April incident. Cuomo had previously re-issued an amendment to his order empowering Schneiderman to investigate the case.
Schneiderman said the situation in Troy is “unique” and that other district attorneys have complied with the executive order, which was first issued last year.
“We have received cooperation from every district attorney in the state,” Schneiderman said. “This is a unique situation.”
As for the case itself, Schneiderman said his office was reviewing the shooting of Tehevnin, who died after a chase with police in Troy.
“We’re committed to conducting a full investigation into the shooting and how the investigation was conducted and no one is off the hook for that,” he said.