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AG race heats up as Schneiderman starts ad campaign (Update)

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks during his campaign kickoff at City Hall Park on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Credit: Charles Eckert

ALBANY -- Attorney General Eric Schneiderman kicked off his TV ad campaign for re-election on Tuesday asserting his independence. The ad comes a month after Republican challenger John Cahill started running an ad that states he is the candidate who is tough enough to take on Albany corruption.

“I go after those who think they are above the law,” Schneiderman said in his TV ad that highlights his drug busts, Wall Street settlements and political corruption convictions. “It doesn’t matter how rich or powerful they are ... I will not stop fighting for everyday New Yorkers. Because there has to be one set of rules for everyone.”

Schneiderman’s ad doesn’t mention the Moreland Commission on public corruption in Albany now being investigated by federal prosecutors. Schneiderman stood next to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo when he created what was promised to be an independent commission and Schneiderman deputized several members to give them the legal authority to investigation the Legislature.

Schneiderman refuses to talk about the Moreland Commission or its demise saying he doesn’t want public comments to hinder the federal probe.

“He has not asserted the independence of that office,” Cahill said Tuesday. Cahill said that despite Schneiderman’s list of dozens of convictions -- including legislators in his own party -- the attorney general has failed to take on the biggest corruption cases in Albany.

Recent polls showed Schneiderman with a 2:1 lead over Cahill, although nearly half of voters questioned said they didn’t know enough about Schneiderman after one four-year term to have an opinion of him. Even fewer knew of Cahill. Republicans said Schneiderman’s lack of name recognition makes Schneiderman vulnerable.

“If you hired a lawyer and haven’t heard from him in three and a half years, would you rehire him?” Cahill said.

Among his more than 50 corruption cases, Schneiderman prosecuted Democratic Sen. Shirley Huntley and a charity executive close to Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Schneiderman's financial probes have brought more than $4 billion in settlements to the state.

Cahill’s TV ad continues to circulate in markets statewide, he said. It tries to define Cahill, a former top aide to Gov. George Pataki, as tough enough to be a watchdog on a state government dominated by Democrats who hold every statewide office.

Cahill's campaign spokesman said the ad is part of the Republican argument that Schneiderman is “complicit, lackadaisical (and) incompetent” in fighting corruption.

 

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