Attorney General

Schneiderman’s Post-Election Analysis

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is savoring his win on Tuesday night, especially in light of the fact that his race with Republican John Cahill was widely viewed as the most competitive statewide contest of this election cycle.

Schneiderman received about 55.5 percent of the vote to Cahill’s 41.6 percent.

“Since May, the State Republican Party tried desperately to spin a narrative that Schneiderman was vulnerable,” a post-election memo prepared by the AG’s campaign and obtained by CapTon states.

“Republican Super PACs were supposed to spend millions and the polls were supposed to narrow,” the memo continues.

“But the polls never tightened to a point of actual consequence, and Super PAC money never materialized because institutional supporters knew it would be a worthless investment: Attorney General Schneiderman was too strong.”

Schneiderman was viewed as vulnerable in some corners due to his low name recognition and failure to win the sort of national accolades garnered by his larger-than-life predecessors, Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo.

A number of newspaper editorial pages endorsed Cahill, expressing disappointment with what they viewed as Schneiderman’s failure to fully exercise the power of his office.

But the truth is, Cahill, who also suffered from low name recognition – a problem compounded by his lack of campaign cash – never really came close to closing the double-digit gap between himself and Schneiderman.

And once the AG launched his multimillion dollar TV ad campaign, it was hard for Cahill to compete – though he made a serious go of it at the duo’s lone televised AG debate, hosted by TWC News.

In the end, Schneiderman got more votes and a bigger margin of victory than Cuomo’s 54 percent win over Rob Astorino, though state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli – in an ironic twist, given his own vulnerability in 2010 – bested them both with 60 percent of the vote over Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci’s 36.6 percent.

According to the Schneiderman campaign memo, the AG won by a slightly wider margin this year than in his first election, which took place in a good year for Democrats.

In 2010, Schneiderman defeated his GOP opponent, Staten Island DA Dan Donovan, by 13 percentage points. This year – a year that saw losses across the country for progressive Democrats like Schneiderman – he beat Cahill by 14 points.

This year, the memo notes, Schneiderman won Erie County, 52-45, while he lost it 44-45 four years ago. He also added several other counties to his “win” column, including Nassau, Dutchess, Orange and Richmond, (which tends to trend more conservative, though Cuomo carried for the second time this year, albeit by a smaller margin than in 2010).

The memo insists Schneiderman’s win wasn’t solely about money, though it admits the AG’s cash advantage enabled his campaign to tell voters about his record.

Considering his disadvantages, though, Cahill ran a strong race without any significant missteps or career-ending errors. He gained a lot of traction for a virtual unknown former gubernatorial staffer (to ex-Gov. George Pataki) who was running his first-ever campaign for public office.

Giuliani Robos For Cahill

Republican former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani has recorded a robocall for John Cahill, the former top aide to Gov. George Pataki running for attorney general.

“I’ve known John in tough times and good times,” Giuliani says in the call. “He’s a man who can handle any crisis.”

Cahill is running to unseat Democratic incumbent Eric Schneiderman, who is seeking a second term on Tuesday.

Cahill has sought to make the election a referendum, in part, on Schneiderman’s efforts to combat corruption, as well as his involvement in the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption.

Giuiliani’s call hints at that stance, though the script is kept relatively generic.

“John has what it takes to tackle the crime and corruption in our state and put New York back on the right track,” Giuiliani says in the call. “He will work tirelessly for all New Yorkers.”

It’s interesting that Giuliani is recording the call. Twenty years ago, Giuliani backed then-Gov. Mario Cuomo for a fourth term over Cahill’s former boss-turned-law-partner, Pataki, then a state senator.

Pataki that year would go on to defeat Cuomo in an upset.

This year, Giuliani is remaining noticeably quiet on the race for governor.

The former mayor, who has spoken positively of the current governor, Andrew Cuomo, has not endorsed Republican challenger Rob Astorino.

Debate Deconstruction

If you didn’t catch last night’s TWC News/NY1 debate in Hamburg between the two major party candidates for state attorney general – the only time they’ll face off before next Tuesday’s election – you missed quite the show.

It was a verbal slap-fest between Democratic incumbent Eric Schneiderman and his GOP opponent, former Pataki administration official John Cahill, with the two trading barbs over everything from ethics and campaign contributors to abortion rights and gun control.

As has been widely reported, I had a tough time controlling these two, who were more interested in talking over one another and getting their jabs in than answering questions posed by myself and the members of our panel.

We did, however, manage to learn some key information during our lightning round, such as the fact that Cahill doesn’t appear to know what BuzzFeed is, and has never taken one of the site’s infamous quizzes, whereas Schneiderman has (though he didn’t elaborate, so we’ll never know which Weasley he is).

For the record, Cahill is a quick study. He Tweeted a photo of himself “catching up on BuzzFeed quizzes” at a Buffalo-area bar after the debate.

We also know that when Schneiderman finishes up another stressful day at the AG’s office, he likes to kick his feet up and unwind with a nice historical drama film – preferably about WW II.

Schneiderman revealed the last movie he watched was “Diplomacy,” a Franco-German film that premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival last February. It was directed by Volker Schlöndorff and adapted from the play Diplomatie by Cyril Gely.

Cahill also has a taste for historical dramas. He said the last movie he saw was “Lincoln” – the 2012 film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the nation’s 16th president.

If you want to learn more about the candidates – their likes and dislikes, habits, and even a little on policy – you can catch the full debate here.

Thanks again to both candidates for participating, to our panel members for their insightful (if not always answered) questions, to Hilbert College for hosting and to our live audience members for (mostly) following my instructions to hold their applause until after the debate was over.

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.”