Attorney General

McCarthy, Schneiderman Push Back On Conceal Carry

Democratic New York electeds are becoming increasnigly alarmed by a bill in Congress that they say strip the rights of states to regulate conceal and carry laws.

The measure passed the House Judiciary Committee this morning, but its fate in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate remains unclear.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who is appearing on former Gov. David Paterson’ WOR radio show this afternoon at 5:10 p.m, previously sent a letter to all 50 U.S. governors alerting them to the bill.

“If the bill were to become law, a state that has decided that concealed handgun carriers should go through certain kinds of firearm safety training or pass certain criminal background checks would be forced to allow residents of other states to walk its streets armed, even if they acquired their weapons without passing those standards.”

And Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also took the issue last week writing in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that, “This would create a lowest common denominator approach to public safety that would increase the threat to New Yorkers, impede the ability of law enforcement to do its job, and undermine the will of our citizens as expressed through their duly elected state legislators.”

Naturally, firearms-rights groups issued a statement knocking the proposal.

This from Tom King, the president of the state Rifle and Pistol Association.

“Eric Schneiderman campaigned for New York State District Attorney on a platform of equality and social justice,” said Thomas H. King, President of NYSRPA. “In opposing H.R. 822, Schneiderman makes it clear that a citizen’s 2nd Amendment civil rights can be abridged by nothing more than arbitrary political boundaries. Worse, he gives his full support to New York’s notorious Sullivan Act which not only permits, but encourages, discrimination based upon a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation and economic status. I am saddened by the Attorney General’s actions.”

Democratic Senators Call On AG To Investigate NYPD

A group of seven Senate Democrats are calling on Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate the New York City Police Department for his wide-ranging counterintelligence program.

Sens. Kevin Parker, along with Bill Perkins, Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Shirley Huntley, Liz Krueger, Velmanette Montgomery and Gustavo Rivera write in the letter that the surveillance program of the city’s Muslim community, as first described by the Associated Press in August.

The AP found the surveillance program being conducted by the NYPD operates with little oversight from the City Council and rivals the CIA in its ability to track suspects in terrorism investigations.

The department has been in particular targeting mosques suspected of ties to terrorist organizations.

“There need not be any evidence of criminality or wrongdoing nor any jurisdictional limit. This dangerous precendent undermines one of the most basic tenets of our nation, religious liberty,” the senators write.

Parker has been particularly outspoken on the issue of targeting the city’s Muslim community. He blasted Sen. Greg Ball’s hearings on “radical” Islam’s influence in New York as discriminatory, a charge the Hudson Valley Republican denied.

And Parker versus the NYPD is anything particularly new, of course. The Brooklyn Democrat was arrested in 2009 after a tussle with a New York Post photographer. He was found guilty of a misdemeanor last December.

Schneiderman NYPD Investigation Letter

Schneiderman, NYC Sue Bank Of New York Mellon

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the city of New York filed a joint lawsuit today against Bank of New York Mellon, accusing the financial giant of defrauding clients in foreign currency exchanges.

The suit is being filed under the Martin Act, the now famous legal weapon that gives the attorney general’s office broad authority to guard against defrauding investors, along with the false claims act.

The alleged fraud impacted the public pension funds of both New York City Employee Retirement System and the State University of New York. Both Schneiderman and the Office of the New York City Comptroller say they plan on recovering the money from the bank, which they say was wrongly pocketed.

“This landmark case uncovered a fraud committed against both government and private pension funds,” Executive Deputy Attorney General Karla G. Sanchez said. “This office will continue to commit its full resources to hold those responsible accountable, seek restitution for the victims, ensure that our markets are fair and transparent, and uphold one set of rules for all market participants.”

Schneiderman’s investigation found that BNY Mellon “profited enormously from its deceptive conduct” by offering the worst possible price while claiming it provided the best possible price.

2011-10-04-complaint

High Court Holding Hearing On Indigent Legal Services

Nearly half of the New Yorkers facing foreclosure lack access to legal representation, Executive Deputy Attorney General Marty Mack told a panel of judges today.

In his testimony, Mack said the lack of so many New Yorkers unable to afford an attorney during the foreclosure process has led to greater instances of abuse from both lenders and debt collectors.

“For every abusive case uncovered, there are dozens upon dozens of homeowners and, sad to say, former homeowners, who have been steamrolled because they did not have adequate representation,” he said.

Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, along with Appellate Division Presiding Justice Anthony Cardona are holding a day-long hearing on expanding access to civil legal services in New York.

Lippman has made securing access to lawyers for the poor and indigent a key agenda of his tenure as the leader of the state’s highest court.

Lippman has sought a tightening of foreclosure regulations in New York. Mack pointed out in his testimony that “to the surprise of no one” the new regulations are working.

Mack’s boss, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, is growing in his popularity as a new lion of the left for his work in opposing a nationwide settlement with major banks because it prevents future investigations.

The hearing can be viewed on the Court of Appeals website. It runs to 1 p.m.

10.03.11 Lippman Testimony – MM

Kentucky AG Backs Schneiderman In Bank Negotiations

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has landed another backer in his quest to push for a 50 state negotiation with the major banks on Wall Street over the mortgage crisis.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway sent out an email to supporters saying that he is going to stand with Schneiderman, and AG’s from Delaware, Minnesota, and Nevada, to oppose a current deal that would provide legal immunity to Wall Street firms in return for a settlement roughly believed to be about $20 billion.

“Today, by adding my voice to this issue, along with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, we are adding momentum to the fight for Wall Street accountability. These next couple weeks are critical. Key meetings and discussions will determine if Wall Street banks get immunity — regardless of what they may or may not have done,” Conway said.

Conway, a Democrat, is in the middle of a re-election campaign in the conservative southern state, after failing to defeat Rand Paul in a US Senate race in 2010. Recent polls show him leading his Republican challenger, though he is gaining.

Tomorrow, the largest US mortgage companies are expected to meet with federal and state officials to discuss the settlement.

Citizen Action: ‘Stand With Schneiderman’

Good-government reformers Citizen Action is urging supporters to back Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after he was bounced from a committee of fellow attorneys general that was overseeing a multi-state investigation of mortgage lenders.

Schneiderman was reportedly kicked off the panel after refusing to go along with a federal settlement.

Schneiderman, a Democrat who took office eight months ago, opposes a deal that would allow banks and other mortgage providers to avoid lawsuits related to their home loan operations.

“Our Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, was serving on that committee as an outspoken advocate for consumers, until last night when he was forced off of it,” Citizen Action said. “Attorney General Schneiderman has been a true advocate for New Yorkers and all those in America who have been touched by the mortgage crisis. According to a New York Times article today, “Mr. Schneiderman has said that he opposes any deal that gives participating banks a release from other litigation surrounding their mortgage activities.”

The group also calls on New Yorkers to sign a petition backing the AG for refusing to compromise on the issue.

The AG offered an explanation to supporters on why he was taken off the committee, saying in a letter that he is “seeking a resolution that gives homeowners meaningful relief, allows the housing market to begin to recover, and gets our economy moving again.”

Schneiderman: ‘The Trust Bank Is Empty’

Voters have lost confidence in both private and public institutions, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a radio interview this morning.

Speaking on Fred Dicker’s Talk 1300 show, Schneiderman said local governments, too, have fallen under the same cloud of distrust that includes the state government and financial services industry.

“The trust bank is empty and we have to restore integrity to the government and to the private sector if we’re going to get people engaged,” Schneiderman said.

The Democratic AG also reflected on the death of former Gov. Hugh Carey, saying that he and Gov. Andrew Cuomo came of age when Carey and other public officials worked together to save New York City’s finances.

Schneiderman, a former state senator representing a liberal Manhattan district, said both parites had contributed to the lack of trust in Albany.

“The governor and I really had our formative view when we were teenagers of what government should look like,” he said. “This is a bipartisan degeneration of a great institution.”

The AG has traveled the state to introduce public integrity officers for various regions of New York. They’re charged with rooting out local corruption cases.

Schneiderman has also launched investigations into bank fraud that preceded the 2008 financial crisis. Schneiderman said both efforts have resonated with the public.

“I expected this being a very diverse state to haver a wide variety of concerns. I’ve heard the same two themes over and over again: loss of confidence in state government but also local government, but also the loss of confidence in the private sector, especially the financial services sector,” he said.

Schneiderman Continues Fracking Push

As the federal government seeks a dismissal of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s hydraulic fracturing lawsuit, the state’s top lawyer said he’s dealing with the issue “at several levels.”

Bloomberg News reported earlier today that the U.S. government will seek a dismissal of the suit filed by Schneiderman’s office earlier this year. The AG filed his suit back on May 31, claiming the government is allowing the controversial natural-gas extraction process to move forward in the Delaware River Basin without a proper environmental review.

In a radio interview with The Capitol Pressroom, Schneiderman said his office was looking into the issue commonly known as hydrofracking on multiple fronts.

“There’s not been a ruling yet,” Schneiderman said of the suit. “We’re dealing with the hydrfracking issue at several levels.”

Among those levels is the rights of property owners. Schneiderman said his office has received several complaints from landowners who say gas companies are trying to extend leases during the ongoing environmental review process from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The DEC issue a preliminary draft environmental review of possible regulations for allowing high-volume hydrofracking in the state. Natural gas companies are eyeing the state’s Marcellus Shale formation in the Southern Tier as a prime spot for exrtraction.

“Our office has received a lot of complaints that gas exploration companies have sent out letters trying rto extend their leases and claiming they have the right to do so because of DEC’s review process, which has been delayed. We’re looking at some of that very closely,” Schneiderman said. “We want to make sure landowners are treated fairly.”

He added, “This is not a frack or don’t frack issue. It’s about the fair treatment of landowners.”

Whatever regulations the DEC does develop, Schneiderman would have to defend them in court. The DEC actually pushed back its public comment period by a month as it continues

“I’m hopeful that we come out with the best regs we possibly can. As attorney general I’ll have to defend it.”

Schneiderman Pays Himself Back

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman raised $913,397 in contributions, but spent most of the day re-paying personal loans to his campaign, according to his campaign filing.

Schneiderman’s filing shows he made three separate loan re-payments to himself totaling $550,000. All three of Schneiderman’s 2010 loans were made at the height of the tense five-way Democratic primary.

He also reported spending $203,314 on miscellaneous campaign bills.

With the bill paying and loan settling, Schneiderman has $276,421 in cash on hand.

But Schneiderman is still a prodigious fundraiser. Notes NYPIRG’s Mahoney: With $913,397.70 in contributions, AG Schneiderman beats the total contributions raised by AG Cuomo’s two committees in July ’07 ($513,575).

AG Forms Non-Profit Reform Committee

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman just tapped two Capital Region leaders to head up a new 29 person committee that is charged with reform state non profit laws.

They are NYS United Way President Susan Hager and New York Council of Nonprofits CEO Doug Sauer.

“I am pleased Susan and Doug will serve with their colleagues across the state to reform the rules of the road so the nonprofit sector can thrive,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Nonprofits provide critical services to their communities and as the second largest employment sector in the state, their success is crucial to our economy. We can be tough on policing fraud without imposing needless burdens and costs on this vital sector, and the Leadership Committee is a central part of achieving those goals.”

According to Schneiderman’s press release, the committee is going to focus on 3 main points.

  • Making recommendations on how to reduce regulatory burdens and more effectively address regulatory concerns
  • Developing legislative proposals to modernize New York’s nonprofit laws that would eliminate outdated requirements and unnecessary burdens
  • Proposing measures to enhance board governance and effectiveness, including through new programs to recruit and train nonprofit board members.

Earlier this year, Schneiderman promised he would form this committee to take a closer look at non-profits, which makes up between 17% and 18% of the state’s workforce.