Attorney General - 2018 Primary

NEW YORK STATE

ATTORNEY GENERAL

         

DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARY

★ Preferred Candidate ★

Zephyr Teachout – Dem
Candidate has returned a questionnaire
Age: 46
Occupation: Professor of Law at Fordham Law School
Education: Yale University, B.A.; Fordham Law School, J.D.

Zephyr Teachout is an academic, author, and political activist. She is nationally recognized as an expert in constitutional and anti-corruption law, and has written extensively on the subject. Teachout is currently a professor of law at Fordham University, and previously taught at Duke University. After receiving her law degree from Duke Law School in 1999, Teachout worked as a clerk in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and later as an attorney at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation. In 2008, Teachout co-founded an organization called A New Way Forward, which advocated for criminal prosecution of financial crimes. In 2014, she became the first National Director of the Sunlight Organization, a non-partisan group dedicated to increasing transparency in Congress. In 2015, she became the CEO for the campaign finance reform coalition MayDay PAC, and in 2016, joined the board of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington 12 (CREW), which challenges constitutional breaches from the White House. If elected, Teachout’s priorities include pursuing cases of corruption and sexual harassment in Albany, invoking the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution vis-à-vis President Donald Trump and investigating his business interests (she is already involved in litigation on this issue), preventing corporate abuse, and ameliorating the injustices of mass incarceration. In an interview with Citizens Union, she also spoke knowledgably in favor of reforms to voting and campaign finance, and is the only candidate in the race to pledge not to accept contributions from LLCs. She appeared to be the candidate most enthusiastic and knowledgeable about good government reform, as well as the candidate with the most thorough and thoughtful plan to fight corruption in Albany. What she may lack in managerial experience, Citizens Union feels, is offset by her career-long commitment to democratic reform and her demonstrated independence from political and special interests. For these reasons, Citizens Union prefers Zephyr Teachout in the Democratic Primary for New York State Attorney General.

          

Leecia Eve – Dem
Candidate has returned a questionnaire  
Age: 54
Occupation: VP of State Government Affairs at Verizon
Education: Smith College, B.A.; John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, M.P.A.; Harvard Law School, J.D.

Leecia Eve is Verizon’s Vice President of State Government Affairs for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. She is also a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. After receiving her law degree, Eve began her legal career as a law clerk to New York State Court of Appeals Judge Fritz W. Alexander II. She has since worked as a top aide for several prominent officials, including to Senator Joe Biden in the 1990s, as the Senate Counsel to Senator Hillary Clinton, and later as an advisor on her 2008 presidential campaign. From 2013 to 2015, Eve was the Deputy Secretary of Economic Development under Governor Cuomo. Leecia Eve’s top priorities for the Attorney General’s office are to protect the interests of New Yorkers from the consequences of federal policy, reform the criminal justice system, protect women’s rights, curtail housing discrimination, and safeguard environmental protections. She has stated that she will also use the office as a bully pulpit to advocate for reforms in elections, campaign finance, and ethics. To this end, Eve supports good government reforms such as the public financing of state elections, reducing campaign contribution limits, and implementing election day registration and “no excuse” absentee ballot voting. Leecia Eve is a competent and dedicated public servant whose reform goals largely align with Citizens Union’s. However, the organization feels that her approach to the role of Attorney General is better suited to a legislative position, where many of her priorities could be advanced.

 

Letitia James – Dem
Candidate has returned a questionnaire 
Age: 59
Occupation: New York City Public Advocate
Education: Lehman College, B.A.; Howard University, J.D.; Columbia University, M.P.A.

Letitia James is the New York City Public Advocate, and the first woman of color to hold citywide office. Her tenure as Public Advocate has been characterized by frequent litigation, having initiated more lawsuits than any of her predecessors. James has used the office to bring attention to issues of criminal justice, affordable housing and tenants’ rights, and to provide greater resources to underserved children and families. James has also served as a New York City Council Member, headed the Brooklyn Regional Office and Civil Rights Bureau of the Attorney General’s office under Eliot Spitzer, and worked as a public defender for the Legal Aid Society. Similar to her opponents, James’s platform for the Attorney General’s office includes challenging federal policies that harm New Yorkers – especially in the area of civil rights and the environment, ensuring robust consumer protections, and enforcing pay equity. James is also committed to utilizing a joint task force between the Attorney General and Comptroller to root out abuses in state government, closing the LLC loophole to end pay-to-play schemes, and civilly prosecuting businesses that use bribes and kickbacks to win political favors. In the realm of campaign finance reform, James favors the creation of a statewide public financing system, eliminating housekeeping accounts, and overturning Citizens United v. FEC with the help of other state AGs. James is a seasoned candidate with extensive government experience, and knowledge of the Attorney General’s office. However, Citizens Union is concerned about her ability to remain independent from the Governor and party leaders when a major focus of the office should be on corruption in Albany.

 

Sean Patrick Maloney – Dem
Candidate has returned a questionnaire 
Age: 51 Occupation: U.S. Representative
Education: University of Virginia, B.A. and J.D.

Sean Patrick Maloney has been active on various levels of New York State and national politics for over a two decades. He is a three-term incumbent U.S. Representative from the Hudson Valley, who is running for re-election to that office concurrently with his bid for the Democratic nomination for state Attorney General (he said he would withdraw from the congressional race if he wins the primary for Attorney General). Prior to his time in Congress, Maloney served as the First Deputy Secretary to Governors Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson. In the late 1990s, Maloney worked in the West Wing of the White House under President Bill Clinton, as both a senior advisor to the President and a press secretary. Outside of politics, Maloney has experience as a corporate lawyer, as well as a business executive and entrepreneur. In an interview with Citizens Union, Maloney focused largely on the importance of the office to stand up to federal overreach, and less so on its other responsibilities. Notably, however, if elected Maloney plans to create a bureau within the office to address cases of sexual harassment and abuse. Maloney aligns with Citizens Union in his support of campaign finance reform, specifically, citing the need to implement a public campaign financing system like New York City’s, even if it means losing the incumbent advantage he has benefited from. He believes New York’s electronic campaign finance reporting system should be updated to be made accessible to the public in real time. Maloney also supports reducing campaign contribution limits and closing the LLC loophole but, like all candidates except Teachout, he is accepting contributions from LLC’s this election cycle. He also expressed interest in submitting program bills to reform JCOPE. Sean Patrick Maloney is an experienced and capable lawmaker, with an array of 14 political and legal experience on both a state and national level. However, Citizens Union is concerned about his running for two offices at once, and the possible use of campaign funds from his congressional race to fund his run for state Attorney General.

 

REFORM PARTY PRIMARY

No Preference

Michael Diederich, Jr. – Reform
Candidate has returned a questionnaire 
Age: 64
Occupation: Attorney at The Law Offices Of Michael Diederich
Education: University of Vermont, B.S.; Northwestern University, J.D.; Pace University (LL.M); Army Judge Advocate General’s School, Command & General Staff College

Michael Diederich, Jr. is a civil rights lawyer specializing in employment discrimination. He recently retired from the U.S. Army Reserve where he served for 29 years as a Military Legal Adviser, Command Judge Advocate, and Foreign Claims Commissioner. While serving as an adviser to the U.S. Army Reserve he also worked as the Assistant County Attorney in Rockland County and Westchester County. If elected, Diederich’s priorities are to pursue violations of antitrust laws, ensure quality secular education statewide, prosecute corruption, and challenge civil rights violations that result from federal action. Having failed to get on the Democratic Party ballot, Diederich is currently running for the Reform Party nomination to highlight issues that he believes are important to safeguarding democracy in New York. Diederich supports expanding the role of the Attorney General to prosecute public corruption and campaign finance law violations, and increasing oversight of the financial industry. He told Citizens Union that he plans to wage a more serious bid for the office in 2022 on the Democratic line. Citizens Union does not prefer him in this race because he has not undertaken a viable campaign.

 

Nancy Sliwa – Reform
Candidate has returned a questionnaire 
Occupation: Attorney and Real Estate Broker
Education: Stonybrook University, B.A.; Brooklyn Law School, J.D.

Nancy Sliwa is an attorney with a background in real estate and tax law. She currently serves as the director of the Animal Protection Division of the Guardian Angels and is running for Attorney General on an animal rights platform. Most of Sliwa’s priorities include establishing a statewide “no-kill” animal shelter system, creating an animal abuse registry, and prosecuting sex offenders. She has also stated her support for limiting corporate campaign contributions. Sliwa is critical of many of the lawsuits recently brought by the state Attorney General against federal policy. Citizens Union takes a position of no preference in this race because Sliwa’s vision for the office is largely limited to promoting animal rights, and does not capture its potential to protect democratic rights and fight corruption and fraud.

 

Christopher Garvey – Reform
Candidate has not returned a questionnaire.