Schneiderman faces Cahill in attorney general race

Attorney General candidates John P. Cahill, left, and incumbent Eric Schneiderman participate in a debate at Hilbert College in Hamburg, N.Y. on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. (AP Photo/The Buffalo News, Mark Mulville)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The ex-chief of staff for New York’s last Republican governor is trying to knock off Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to become the state’s top lawyer.

Schneiderman, 59, campaigned on his record over the past four years of negotiating record multibillion-dollar settlements from the banks that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis, prosecuting dozens of state officials and contractors for fraud and other crimes, curbing illicit gun sales and writing the law to create a central medical registry for prescription drugs and restrict illicit trade in those opiates. He established programs to outfit police with bulletproof vests and to provide heroin overdose antidotes to police and other emergency personnel.

John Cahill, 56, who would have to forgo much higher pay as a Manhattan lawyer, consultant on energy and environmental issues and bank board member, said he brings more integrity to the job. He said Schneiderman’s integrity is called into question by his role in the failed Moreland anti-corruption commission and by his close but only partly disclosed official ties to his ex-wife’s consulting firm, which has handled millions of his campaign dollars.

The commission was appointed by and later shut down by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Schneiderman swore in most commissioners as deputy attorneys general and provided some staff. He has declined to discuss the former commission; its work now being examined by federal investigators.

Among Cahill’s proposed initiatives if elected is establishing a new division to address domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment. As state conservation commissioner under Gov. George Pataki, he was an author of that administration’s efforts to buy or obtain conservation easements to about 1 million acres of Adirondack forestland, preventing development.

Cahill’s last state post was 2007-08 with the State Investigation Commission, with authority to investigate suspected wrongdoing statewide. It was shuttered in 2009. Critics say it had become ineffective. Cahill says he was one of those critics.

With a staff of 664 attorneys and annual budget of $224 million, the Attorney General’s Office defends New York government against lawsuits, pursues civil claims, oversees charities and nonprofits, investigates consumer complaints, directs the state Organized Crime Task Force and prosecutes.

The attorney general’s salary is $151,500. The term is four years.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday.

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