Eric Schneiderman

Vito is up the Sleazy River

And heading just plain up the river.

NYC newspapers like the NYT and the NYPost have had stories recently about Mr. Charm, Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the center of a sexual harassment scandal, and the story even made its way into the Ithaca Journal.  Corruption, as well as all-around slimy behavior, is so endemic in NYS government it hardly causes a raised eyebrow:

And now the story has acquired legs outside of NYS...Jazz Shaw writing at Hot Air—such poetry:

We normally focus on political news at the national level here, but every once in a while a story congeals like scum on the surface of a state level pond which merits attention. Such is the case in New York State this summer. The tale actually began a while back, when an investigation into the , er… “affairs” of State Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) determined that he had sexually harassed two young, female staffers, leading to his censure on the Assembly floor. And if the story had stopped there it would hardly be unusual enough in Big Apple politics to merit a column.
 
But that event turned out to be the the pebble which started a series of ripples across the pond. Now we find out from the Wall Street Journal that more ethics investigations are underway, this time into the involvement of the Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver. It seems that Shelly didn’t want to bother the busy folks on the ethics committee when he first caught wind of this story and decided to settle things the old fashioned way.
In other words, with payoffs funded with taxpayer dollars.
...The National Organization for Women and Common Cause, a government transparency group, submitted the formal complaint, calling for a probe into Mr. Silver’s approval of a secret $100,000 taxpayer-funded payment to settle accusations by female employees against Assemblyman Vito Lopez...

...The Republicans traditionally control the state senate (by a razor thin margin) but it’s not “the Democrats” who control the Assembly… it’s Sheldon Silver. And he’s held that body in lock-down for nearly two decades. He’s the most powerful Democrat in the state – even more so than the Governor, according to many accounts...
 
...Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is trying to wiggle out of any responsibility for the secret payout. That won’t be easy because an e-mail trail shows his office helped Silver craft the agreement and the confidentiality clause...
 
But wait, there's more.  You'd really have to suspend your disbelief to accept that state Comptroller DiNapoli isn't involved in all of this as well. In the NYPost:
...The two [AG Schneiderman & DiNapoli] swear that neither was personally involved and tried to shift any blame to subordinate staffers — saying the AG’s office was merely contacted “for an informal consultation” and DiNapoli’s general counsel was asked about “income tax implications” regarding “a pending legal settlement.”
 
Frankly, it defies belief that high-powered pols like Lopez and Silver could be negotiating a six-figure sexual-harassment payout without Schneiderman and DiNapoli being aware of every detail. Both officials come out of the Legislature, after all...
So there's Silver, Schneiderman, DiNapoli...can Mario's kid be far behind?
 
Meantime, in the midst of all this, Schneiderman and DiNapoli issued a joint communiqué about—surprise, surprise—more corruption, this time on the state Senate side:
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced a superseding indictment against New York State Senator Shirley Huntley for falsifying business records, conspiracy and tampering with their joint investigation of a scheme to steal taxpayer dollars using a sham not-for-profit that did not provide services to the public. In addition to Senator Huntley, the new indictment charges a close aide and her niece with stealing funds from a member item sponsored by the Senator, and a third individual with aiding the cover-up...
Nothing like a little misdirection to help take the heat off.  Pure as the driven snow.
 
So Vito may be heading up the river—he'd hardly be the first Assembly member to do so—but he really needs some company, don't you think?
 
...I also reiterate my request that Governor Cuomo send the Executive Order No. 41 proceeding "back to the drawing board" in order to make sure that the shale gas industry will be regulated without the taint of corruption...
Way to go, Babs!  If it's the stench of real and seemingly neverending corruption you're looking for, how about checking right under your nose first?
 

"A government of laws and not of men." -- John Adams

First, a little context...the highest-ranking law enforcement officer for NYS, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is, according to his bio at ny.gov, "responsible for representing New York and its residents in legal matters."  Got it?

And

Schneiderman has worked to restore the public’s faith in its public and private sector institutions by focusing on areas including public integrity, economic justice, social justice and environmental protection.

The alarms inside your head should be going off now.

He apparently also needs a copyeditor:

He was also a public interest lawyer for many years, representing taxpayers in historic lawsuits against the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), tenants trying to evict drug dealers from their buildings, and women seeking access to health clinics.

This paragon of public virtue sued "tenants trying to evict drug dealers from their buildings, and women seeking access to health clinics"?  I'm pretty sure that's not what he meant, although it is what he said. But I digress.

According to the April 22, 2000 People's Weekly World (the earlier iteration of what is now the People's World, a Marxist newspaper based in NYC that is the official organ of the Communist Party USA) Schneiderman told the 2000 Working Families Party convention

There's been an incredible explosion of wealth...the two parties have presided over this shift, in which the rich have kept all the money.

Scheiderman added that due to tax cuts for the wealthy "there won't be any money for people's needs."

Got that?  It should sound real familiar to folks in Assemblywoman Babs' 125th district—and Babs and Eric are fellow travelers on gas drilling issues.

UPDATE: From South of 5 and 20Eric Schneiderman, you say? Al Sharpton's pal?  Good one...we'd momentarily forgotten that those two were BFFs.

Now fast forward to 2011.  AG Schneiderman wants to defend landowners' rights. Wait...in view of the above that sounds absurd, says you.  You're right—it is absurd:

....the U.S. government will seek a dismissal of the suit filed by Schneiderman’s office earlier this year [New York v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 11- cv-2599, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn). Citation at Bloomberg—tvm].  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...
 

....“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...

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...

Ah.

In view of AG Holder's selective enforcement practices at the federal level when it comes to laws he doesn't like and in view of AG Schneiderman's opinions on things like "social justice" and his public position on fracking when he was in the state senate, how do you think it will turn out in NYS if AG Schneiderman doesn't like how the DEC regs come down?

Me, too.

h/t Tom

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