Ex-Pataki deputy eyes run for attorney general

John Cahill, chief of staff to New York Governor George Pataki, and his son Jimmy, 11, look over construction at the World Trade Center site during a day in which the largest concrete pour thus far filled in a footing of the 1776-foot Freedom Tower in New York, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2006. (AP Photo/Jeff Zelevansky)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The former chief adviser to Republican Gov. George Pataki is considering a run for New York attorney general and courting potential backers, state party officials said Wednesday.

John Cahill, one-time chief of staff to Pataki and former state conservation commissioner, is expected to decide in the next several days whether to challenge incumbent Democrat Eric Schneiderman.

Cahill’s meeting with state GOP leaders last weekend in Buffalo and other meetings around the state went well, party spokesman David Laska said. Party Chairman Ed Cox is encouraging him to run, but it’s ultimately a personal decision, Laska said.

“His reception at the screenings around the state has been tremendous,” Laska said. “He would bring ethics and common sense to the attorney general’s office.”

Cahill has been talking to party officials and people who might help support the campaign, spokesman David Catalfamo said Tuesday. He called the 55-year-old attorney’s efforts “exploratory.” He declined further comment Wednesday.

With a staff of more than 600 lawyers, the attorney general’s office defends the state in lawsuits, protects consumers, files civil suits, monitors charities and sometimes conducts investigations and prosecutions.

Cahill and Pataki founded a consulting group on energy and environmental issues. Both are listed as counsel with the Chadbourne & Parke law firm in Manhattan.

Pataki was governor from 1995 to 2006. Cahill was general counsel then commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation from 1995 to 2001. He was Pataki’s secretary and chief of staff from 2002 to 2006.

Schneiderman, 59, an attorney and former state senator from Manhattan, was elected attorney general four years ago, beating the Republican candidate, Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan.

He had nearly $6 million on hand for his re-election bid in January, according to campaign filings.

As attorney general, Schneiderman has established a new taxpayer protection bureau, expanded the Medicaid fraud unit, began joint investigations with the state comptroller’s office and has taken a lead role in national civil settlements with major over improper mortgage foreclosures and faulty mortgage-backed securities.

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