Photo Courtesy of the Attorney General’s Office
Governor Cuomo has ordered a special prosecutor to investigate the claims made by four women against Eric Schneiderman.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Eric Schneiderman’s precipitous fall this week from the pinnacle of the progressive mountaintop to the basement of the political hall of shame was as swift as it was startling.
On Monday, The New Yorker published another scathing #MeToo movement exposé titled “Four Women Accuse New York’s Attorney General of Physical Abuse.”
Three hours after the story went public, Schneiderman announced his resignation.
“It’s been my great honor and privilege to serve as Attorney General for the people of the state of New York,” Schneiderman, 63, said in a statement. “In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me. While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time.”
In The New Yorker story, four women with whom Schneiderman “has had romantic relationships or encounters” accuse him of “having subjected them to nonconsensual physical violence.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who came into office with Schneiderman in 2011, almost immediately called for him to step down, citing the “damning pattern of facts and corroboration laid out in the article.”
“No one is above the law, including New York’s top legal officer,” Cuomo added.
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday called the story a “horrible shock.”
“What we saw yesterday evening was absolutely disgusting. The Attorney General of our state, accused of doing things that no one should ever do, let alone someone involved in law enforcement,” Hizzoner added. “And I think like so many people in this city, first hearing there was an article and then, finally, when I finally was able to break from my schedule and read the article, I was horrified – page after page about worse and worse and worse, and it was horrifying, and it was disgusting, and it was unacceptable in every way. Thank God he resigned quickly and didn’t put this state through a nightmare.”
Cuomo on Tuesday appointed Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas special prosecutor “to investigate, and if warranted, prosecute, any and all matters concerning the public allegations against Mr. Schneiderman, as reflected in The New Yorker article…as well as any matters that may arise from this investigation.”
Singas is the former head of the Special Victims’ Bureau at the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the founding member of the Domestic Violence Bureau at the Queens DA’s Office.
State Solicitor General Barbara Underwood is now the acting Attorney General.
“I am honored to serve the people of New York as acting Attorney General,” she said. “The work of this office is critically important. Our office has never been stronger, and this extraordinarily talented, dedicated, and tireless team of public servants will ensure that our work continues without interruption.”
The State Senate and Assembly will choose Schneiderman’s permanent replacement, though no schedule for a vote has been made public.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach), who served with Schneiderman when the latter represented parts of Manhattan in the Upper Chamber, said his former colleague did the right thing by resigning quickly. Addabbo also applauded “the brave women for coming forward with their stories because these actions are not tolerable from a public servant. I always believed elected officials should be held to a higher ethical standard.”