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Queens Chronicle

Underwood named acting NYS attorney general

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Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2018 5:11 pm

New York State Solicitor General Barbara Underwood, with a long and distinguished career in law and government, has been appointed acting New York State attorney general following the resignation of Eric Schneiderman.

According to Underwood’s biography on the AG’s official website, she has been solicitor general since January 2007.

She has served as counsel and chief counsel to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

From 1998 to 2001 Underwood was the acting solicitor general and principal deputy solicitor general of the United States. She has held executive positions in the Queens and Brooklyn District Attorneys’ Offices, and served as a trial attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

She has argued 20 cases before the United States Supreme Court, and formerly served as a clerk for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Schneiderman has been accused of physically abusing four women with whom he had relationships, according to an article in The New Yorker. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Two of the women characterized the encounters as assault. They did not report Schneiderman’s alleged actions to police but did seek medical care afterward.

Published reports state that an interim replacement would have to be chosen by a joint session of the state Legislature, in which the Democrats’ numerical superiority in the Assembly just about guarantees that Republicans would have almost no bargaining power.

Democrats will meet later this month at their state convention in Nassau County to pick a nominee for the nomination that Schneiderman was anticipating running for unopposed by a primary.

Among the names being bandied about as a possible successor are state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria); City Public Advocate Letitia James; Nassau County Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-Nassau), who has sought the nomination before; and state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Nassau), who is a former federal prosecutor.

Manny Alicandro, a Brooklyn-born Wall Street attorney, has announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination.

Published reports state that the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is investigating the allegations, though Vance’s office did not respond to request for comment from the Chronicle.

Multiple reports have pointed out the possibility of a conflict because Schneiderman had been directed by Gov. Cuomo to investigate how Vance’s office handled its investigation of sexual assault allegations against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.  

In a statement from his office, Albany District Attorney David Soares said the matter is under review.

“Domestic violence continues to be one of the most underreported crimes and we applaud victims for their strength and courage in coming forward to share their experiences,” Soares said in an email to the Chronicle. “While I too am stunned by the recent developments involving AG Schneiderman, please know that we will investigate any incident that may have occurred in Albany County.”

Mayor de Blasio’s office said he would be addressing Schneiderman in a press conference later on Tuesday.

In a statement from his office, state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said Schneiderman had no choice but to resign, calling it “the only course of action after the allegations made against him.

“I applaud the brave women for coming forward with their stories because these actions are not tolerable from a public servant. I always believed elected officials should be held to a higher ethical standard.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) found the allegations against Schneiderman deeply disturbing and shocking.

“This kind of conduct is abhorrent and has no place in our society,” Meng said in a press release. “The brave women who revealed this abusive behavior are to be commended for speaking out. They refused to stay silent, and I applaud them for having the courage to come forward.”

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