Attorney General

Underwood Appointed AG

Barbara Underwood was formally appointed attorney general of New York by the state Legislature on Tuesday, serving out the remainder of Eric Schneiderman’s term after his resignation this month.

“It’s a tremendous honor and I pledge to serve the great people of the state of New York with honesty, integrity and all the skills that I’ve acquired in all my decades of public service,” Underwood said after the vote.

Underwood is the first woman to officially serve as attorney general, but will not run for the job this fall. The depth of her experience and her decision to not run for the job made her an appointment both Republicans and Democrats could support.

“I think the most important thing I can do right is now is keep going,” she said. “The work this office does is important.”

The Legislature has the power to appoint a new attorney general when there is a vacancy. It’s a power Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said lawmakers had the right to use.

“The framers of the constitution — sometimes we have to give them credit and they did say they thought it was better to have all of the members of the Legislature pick the attorney general,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Lawmakers backed Underwood from a dozen candidates who had interview publicly for the job. She was supported early on by Republicans, who are outnumbered in the joint Assembly-Senate vote.

“I think the message is the editorials worked, the peoples’ outrage worked, many of us spoke up to not have one political affiliation be in place right now,” said Sen. Jim Tedisco, a Republican from the Capital Region.

Republicans had opposed candidates who wanted to run for the job after being appointed by the Legislature, saying it would give that person an unfair advantage.

“Now they understand that the most important thing to do is leave it up to the people of New York state who should be our new attorney general,” Tedisco said. “Barbara Underwood is imminently prepared for this. She was second in command. She knows where these ethics cases are.”

Still other lawmakers, like GOP Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, praised the process itself on the floor of the chamber, saying Republican lawmakers felt included.

The appointment comes as Republicans and Democrats meet Wednesday for their state party convention. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has officially endorse New York City Public Advocate Tish James, while three Republicans are in the running for the nod.

TWU Local 100 For James

The Transport Workers Union Local 100 on Friday endorsed Democratic attorney general candidate Tish James, the latest labor endorsement she’s received in her bid for the office that officially began this week.

“I’m humbled by the support of TWU 100. The men and women of labor helped build this country and I am proud to stand with them,” James said. “As Attorney General, I will fight to safeguard the rights of working people and apply my experience, capabilities, and passion to help New Yorkers in every part of our state.”

James, the New York City public advocate, has largely cleared the field, though she could face a primary challenge for the Democratic nomination from Fordham Law School professor Zephyr Teachout. Tim Wu, Teachout’s 2014 running mate, has also signaled an interest in running.

“Our members know that Tish James has always been a fearless advocate for our rights,” said Local 100 President Tony Utano. “She has stood with us at every turn and we are confident she will continue to stand with us as our next Attorney General. We are proud to endorse Tish James, a true champion for working people, and we look forward to electing her as our New York State Attorney General.”

James Starts To Rack Up Endorsements In AG’s Race

Democratic attorney general candidate Tish James on Thursday began to rack up a series of endorsements, a day after she formally entered the race for the party’s nomination.

James was endorsed by the New York State Nurses Association, as well as state lawmakers who hold leadership posts in the state Assembly.

Tish James knows and defends the value of public education, hailing as a graduate of NYC Public Schools and CUNY,” said Nurses Association President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez.

“She’s taken on powerful corporate interests and has served as a tireless advocate and spokesperson for marginalized communities: from housing to healthcare to daycare to environmental justice. Her track record reflects courage in combatting corruption in many forms and commitment in stopping the privatization and termination of critical public services. This is why we call her ‘the people’s lawyer.’”

James was also endorsed by Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, a Rochester-area Democrat who is running for Congress this year, as well as Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper.

“As someone who has worked with children and families my whole career, I have always admired Public Advocate Tish James’ commitment to standing up for our families,” Hooper said.

“Tish has worked to reform our foster care system, passed historic legislation to help close the wage gap for women, and used the law as a vehicle to safeguard the rights of all New Yorkers. From my district, to Long Island, to every region of our state, we can count on Tish James to be the ‘people’s lawyer’ and make us all proud.”

Lawmakers Conclude AG Interviews

Lawmakers wrapped up two days of public interviews on Wednesday, but it’s not clear when they will select the next attorney general to replace the scandal-scarred Eric Schneiderman, who resigned last week.

“I don’t think there’s necessarily any feeling that it needs to be done at any given time,” said Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle. “Obviously, people are taking it seriously and want to do the appropriate thing.”

Looming before lawmakers: The state party conventions, scheduled next week. For now, no vote for the legislative appointment has been scheduled.

“There hasn’t been yet, I can’t speak for the leaders,” said Sen. Pat Gallivan, a Republican from western New York. “My preference would be to get this over before each party holds their convention at the end of next week.”

It’s been an unusual week-and-half, even by the standards of Albany, with Schneiderman resigning amid domestic violence charges and a range of potential candidates emerging to replace him. Lawmakers spent roughly six hours over two days interviewing candidates seeking an appointment from the Legislature to the post.

“This is so rare that I think a little bit of it as, not making up the rules as you go along, but taking it one step at a time,” Gallivan said.

The leading candidate for the appointment is acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who would serve for the rest of the year and not run for a full term.

“I think that Barbara Underwood certainly as the solicitor general, everyone talked about how she would be the best candidate, many of the candidates themselves, and that would be a good continuation through the end of the year,” said Sen. Betty Little, a Republican from Queensbury.

The interviews came amid a broader jockeying over who will run for the job outright this fall, with Public Advocate Tish James of New York City announcing her campaign on Wednesday.

Underwood Interviews, Pledges Stability At AG’s Office

Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood was not flashy. In fact, she largely let her resume do the talking.

“I’ve argued 20 cases in the Supreme Court, 21 cases for our state’s highest court, 33 cases in the Second Circuit,” Underwood told lawmakers during an hour-long session that amount to a job interview on Tuesday, “and I’ve closely supervised the work of attorneys for hundreds more.”

State lawmakers will decide in the coming days who will fill the job vacated by scandal-scarred former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

“Criteria is easy,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol, a Brooklyn Democrat. “Someone who is qualified, someone who can do the job, somebody who is up to the task, who wants the job and has the credentials we deem necessary to be the attorney general of the state of New York.”

And at the moment, the leading contender is already sitting in the office: Underwood, the solicitor general who was elevated to the post only a week ago, after Schneiderman resigned in disgrace amid domestic violence allegations. Speaking to lawmakers for an hour on Tuesday in what amount to a job interview, Underwood pledged to continue the work of the AG’s office.

“Perhaps most important to me it means being a shield against discriminatory or otherwise unlawful action by the federal government that harms New York,” she said.

If appointed, Underwood would be a caretaker. She has pledged to not run for the job, steering clear of what is expected to be a crowded field of candidates.

During the interview, Democratic lawmakers asked broad questions about the AG office’s powers as well about specific issues. Republicans were more concerned with the politics of the office and what electoral ambitions Underwood may have with the office.

“I intend to continue the work the office is doing,” she told reporters after speaking with lawmakers. “I intend to bring cases or bring cases where the evidence and the law support it. That’s the job of the attorney general and I intend to do that to the best of my ability.”

Underwood said she would be able to be independent of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has praised her resume. Underwood is one of the first women to clerk at the Supreme Court and would be the first woman to serve as attorney general.

“I have a lot of experience of being independent, providing independent advice even to the person I work for and certainly clients and he would be a client,” she said.

Lawmakers will continue interviewing potential attorney general candidates for legislative appointment on Wednesday.

She was the first to speak of more than a dozen people who have submitted their names for the potential appointment by the Legislature.

Next after Underwood to speak with lawmakers about the appointment was Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, who is also vying for the job.

“If this panel decided to keep her,” he said of Underwood, “that would not be a bad decision.”

James Files To Run For AG

jamesagNew York City Public Advocate Letitia James has filed paperwork to run for attorney general, a posting on the state Board of Elections website shows.

The move is not a surprising one, given James’s not-so-quiet push to be appointed to the post last week, though she did not submit her name to lawmakers for consideration.

Lawmakers today will begin the two-day public vetting of potential candidates for the legislative appointment, serving out the remainder of ex-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s term in office.

On Monday, Fordham Law School professor and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout announced she had formed an exploratory committee to run for attorney general. Teachout, along with other possible candidates like Sen. Mike Gianaris, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and ex-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara have said they would bypass the legislative appointment process.

In Their Own Words: Why They Want To Be AG

The state Assembly on Monday released 83 pages of cover letters and resumes from the 13 people who want to be appointed attorney general by the state Legislature.

The legislative public vetting process begins Tuesday, with Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood scheduled to speak first.

Many of them at first blush are standard. However, Lloyd Constantine, best known for being an aide to Gov. Eliot Spitzer, wrote in his cover letter that his time serving in a scandal-scarred administration gives him experience in helping “stabilize” an office.

applications5-14-18 by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Maloney Won’t Interview For AG Post

Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in a statement Monday said he would not participate in the legislative appointment process to select a new attorney general.

The news was first reported this morning by The Daily News.

Maloney had been among the 17 people who submitted his name to be considered by the Legislature for the vacancy. But in the statement, he endorsed Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood.

“The Assembly is fulfilling its constitutional responsibility to select someone to serve the remainder of this Attorney General term,” Maloney said.

“I intended to participate in the Assembly’s process out of respect for those proceedings and because I am currently considering whether to run for the office later this year. But, because Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood has entered the Assembly’s process — and she is a tremendously qualified candidate who could serve out the remainder of this term free of any political considerations — I have decided to support her bid to fill the vacancy between now and the election.”

At the same time, Maloney did not rule out running for the job outright.

“Come November, the people of New York will decide who will be the next Attorney General, and I will decide soon whether to run for that office,” he said.

GOP AG Candidate Makes Upstate Campaign Swing

A lot has changed since Wall Street lawyer Manny Alicandro officially announced his candidacy for New York State Attorney General. The same day the Republican made his announcement, the Democratic incumbent Eric Schneiderman became the subject of multiple allegations of domestic abuse and resigned from office.

Alicandro said he was at a dinner hosted by the Fulton County Republican chairman when the news broke.

“The press release came out and the wire hit with the story and then it was a different world,” he said. “Everybody was pointing to their phones at that event saying, ‘Are you aware what’s going on?”

Alicandro began his Upstate campaign swing Monday with a stop in Buffalo. He said there is perhaps more opportunity now, with Schneiderman gone, taking with him his significant fundraising and name recognition advantages, but his strategy hasn’t really change.

“We still have the same message, really,” Alicandro said. “It’s cleaning up the culture of corruption. I like to talk about corruption in Albany being like a pothole that never gets filled.”

The newly vacant seat potentially created more competition on the GOP side for the candidacy too. Rockland County Attorney Thomas Humbach entered the race shortly after Schneiderman’s resignation.

A number of other names have been floated by members of the party as possible attorneys general, including 2014 candidate John Cahill, state Senator Andrew Lanza and former George Pataki aide Joe Holland. The Daily News reported presumptive Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro has even reached out to former U.S. Attorney Preet Bahara about running on a fusion ticket.

“I have no issues again with anybody entering the race. I just think at this point, I’m the front leader. I would appreciate if the party would coalesce around me. I’m the one who had the mettle to jump into this race when nobody really thought I had a chance,” Alicandro said.

He said he believes it would serve the party to best to make the decision at the convention to avoid in-fighting and using resources on an expensive primary when it should take the fight to the Democrats. However, he said he would still consider running a primary if he is not endorsed because he believes he is the best candidate.

Teachout Forms Exploratory Committee For AG Run

Fordham Law School Professor Zephyr Teachout has formed an exploratory committee with an eye toward running for attorney general, she announced on Twitter Monday morning.

“The next Attorney General of New York should be an independent fighter and a voice for the people, ready to take on corruption and lawlessness at the highest pinnacles of power,” posted on the site. “She must be ready to pursue aggressive litigation against the lawlessness in the Trump administration.”

Teachout had previously signaled she would consider running for the job and had been considered a likely candidate in the wake of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s resignation last week amid allegations of domestic violence and drug abuse.

Teachout ran for governor against incumbent Andrew Cuomo in a 2014 primary and again for an open House seat in the 19th district in the Hudson Valley, losing to Rep. John Faso.

She’s working with the gubernatorial campaign of Cynthia Nixon this year.

Teachout, like other likely AG candidates Mike Gianaris, Tish James and Preet Bharara, is not taking part in the legislative appointment process that is scheduled to begin Tuesday with public candidate interviews.