Eric Schneiderman

individual

Overview

Eric Schneiderman was born in New York City on December 31, 1954. After graduating from high school in 1971, he took a job at an abortion clinic and eventually became a passionate abortion-rights activist. Schneiderman received a bachelor’s degree in English/Asian Studies at Amherst College in 1977, then spent two years as deputy sheriff of Berkshire County, Massachusetts. After subsequently earning


Eric Schneiderman was born in New York City on December 31, 1954. After graduating from high school in 1971, he took a job at an abortion clinic and eventually became a passionate abortion-rights activist. Schneiderman received a bachelor’s degree in English/Asian Studies at Amherst College in 1977, then spent two years as deputy sheriff of Berkshire County, Massachusetts. After subsequently earning a JD from the Harvard School of Law in 1982, he clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York until 1984, at which time he became a partner in the law firm of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, LLP. From 1993-99, Schneiderman served as a district leader for New York’s 67th Assembly District. In 1998 he was elected (as a Democrat) to represent the 31st District in the New York State Senate, where he subsequently won re-election by overwhelming margins in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008.

In March 2000, Schneiderman attended the annual convention of the New York Working Families Party. Seven months later, he sent a letter of commendation to a group of individuals who were being honored at an event organized by the Peoples Weekly World, the official newspaper of the Communist Party USA.

In 2010, Schneiderman was elected attorney general of New York State. When National Action Network (NAN) founder Al Sharpton publicly supported Schneiderman’s candidacy, the latter said he was “proud” to accept the endorsement of “a man who fights for justice in the most direct, immediate sense.” “I will seek to follow that model as attorney general,” Schneiderman added.[1]

In early 2016, Schneiderman and California Attorney General Kamala Harris initiated separate probes investigating whether the ExxonMobil Corporation had funded research designed to deceptively conceal the dangers of anthropogenic climate change from its shareholders and the general public. In March of that year, Schneiderman, Harris, and Democratic attorneys general from 15 additional states and territories announced that they were joining “AGs United for Clean Power” (AGUCP), a newly formed alliance created by Al Gore. AGUCP’s objective was to file criminal fraud charges against fossil-fuel companies (and their supporters) that failed to explicitly endorse the notion that the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with human industrial activity were among the leading causes of potentially catastrophic global warming. “The bottom line is simple,” Schneiderman said at a March 29 press conference. “Climate change is real; it is a threat to all the people we represent. If there are companies … committing fraud in an effort to maximize their short-term profits at the expense of the people we represent, we want to find out about it. We want to expose it and want to pursue them to the fullest extent of the law.” PJ Media noted that “a single email in 1981 from Exxon’s in-house climate expert” was the basis for the entire investigation led by Schneiderman and his colleagues.

Citing “a pattern of political opportunism in which enemies pay while friends skate,” the New York Observer in 2014 reported on allegations of Schneiderman using the power of his AG office to browbeat donors into compliance. “In numerous cases,” said the Observer, “Mr. Schneiderman has shown vindictiveness toward political foes and [has] been uncharacteristically lenient or ignorant of activities of political friends.”

Just six weeks before Schneiderman released an October 2014 report excoriating the short-term lodging company Airbnb, his AG re-election campaign received more than $100,000 from donors affiliated with Airbnb’s chief competitor, the hotel industry. Half of those donors had not previously contributed any money to any local political candidate in a decade. Moreover, two weeks before Schneiderman’s report came out, he collected another $10,000 from an organization lobbying against Airbnb.

In 2016, the single largest political donation that Schneiderman received – $65,000 – came from a former Playboy Playmate who resided in Texas and was married to billionaire Robert Smith, a private equity-fund owner who himself had recently donated more than $100,000 to Schneiderman. Notably, most of that money was sent to Schneiderman after the attorney general had launched an investigation of private equity funds.

In 2017-18, Schneiderman initiated more than 50 lawsuits seeking to block various environmental policies of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Casting himself as a staunch defender of women’s rights, Schneiderman endorsed the #MeToo campaign that grew rapidly in the wake of the 2017 revelations about film producer Harvey Weinstein‘s many sexual improprieties. On August 26 of that year, Schneiderman tweeted: “Today I celebrate #WomensEqualityDay—for my daughter and every woman in New York and across the country who deserves an equal playing field.” In another tweet that same day, he said: “I am a proud feminist and I am committed to using the privilege of my office to advance equality—as every elected official should be.”

On May 3, 2018, Schneiderman tweeted a message in support of abortion rights: “If a woman does not have the right to control her own body, she is not truly equal. She is not truly free.”

Five days later, Schneiderman resigned from his post as AG after four women publicly accused him of crimes that included sexual assault, physical violence, and threats of violence. One Sri Lankan woman reported that Schneiderman had repeatedly referred to her as his “brown slave” and “his property,” while demanding that she address him as “Master.”

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NOTE

[1] Schneiderman vowed that if he were to win the election for attorney general, the NAN’s Manhattan-based “House of Justice” auditorium “will have an annex in Albany for the first time in the history of this state.”

 

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