Photo Courtesy of Miguel Gutierrez
Newly minted State Attorney General Barbara Underwood gets standing ovation in Albany.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Barbara Underwood, who has been serving as New York’s acting attorney general since Eric Schneiderman resigned amid scandal on May 8, was recently confirmed by the State Legislature and officially appointed to the permanent post.
“It is a tremendous honor and I pledge to serve the people of the great State of New York with honesty, integrity, and all of the skills I have acquired during decades of public service,” said the 66th NY AG. “During my 11 years with the attorney general’s office, I have seen first-hand the extraordinary talent and dedication of the people of this office. More than 700 attorneys, and another 1,000 investigators, analysts, support staff, and other professionals, are working hard every day to bring justice to the people of New York.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo commended both chambers for their “sound and prudent decision” to appoint Underwood, the first woman to serve as State attorney general
“She is a brilliant legal mind and an extraordinarily qualified attorney who has argued 20 cases before the Supreme Court, and she will provide strong leadership and important continuity in the office of attorney general during these challenging times,” Cuomo added. “I am proud to have first appointed Barbara as solicitor general, and I look forward to continuing to work with her through the remainder of her term to fight for New Yorkers and stand up to an administration in Washington that wants to take us backwards.”
Schneiderman stepped down in disgrace after The New Yorker published a stunning story titled “Four Women Accuse New York’s Attorney General of Physical Abuse.” In the piece, women with whom the former AG “has had romantic relationships or encounters” accuse him of “having subjected them to nonconsensual physical violence.”
In his resignation statement, Schneiderman said he “strongly contests” the allegations. Cuomo has 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 has pledged to “listen to anyone who comes into the office to talk to us about victimization. We will gather the evidence that is necessary. We will analyze that evidence. We will analyze the laws of New York State to see when we can bring charges, if we can bring charges. We will treat this case the same way as we do all cases. There will be no stone left unturned. There will be a thorough investigation. We will treat this case the same whether the alleged perpetrator is a worker or a CEO or the former attorney general of the State of New York.”
The New York electorate will have the opportunity to select the next attorney general for a full four-year term on Nov. 6. City Public Advocate Tish James and Fordham University Law professor Zephyr Teachout, among others, have officially launched campaigns for the post.