Most political observers (particularly those in Western New York) think of Attorney General Eric Schniederman as the quintessential “career politician.” He was a little known and under accomplished State Senator from Manhattan before he narrowly won a primary contest to run for the Attorney General’s office, at the time being vacated by Andrew Cuomo.
Since then, his behind the scenes maneuvering against Governor Cuomo has been the subject of palace intrigue among political operatives. Scheniederman is relentlessly ambitious — perhaps even more ambitious than Cuomo himself. It’s widely rumored that he cut a deal with Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, to pursue Cuomo after he disbanded the Moreland Commission. He was motivated to avoid prosecution himself, I’m told.
Over the past year, there has been visceral bloodlust between the Cuomo camp and Schniederman’s camp, which sits mainly on the Upper Westside of Manhattan. Observers say that Scheniderman’s investigation into the renowned operative G. Steven Pigeon is a “political witch hunt reminiscent of soviet politics” and has created a repugnant distaste for the Attorney General among local operatives in both factions of the Democrat party.
Now, the AG is scheduling a press conference in Buffalo just days after his search warrants of three local political operatives were executed, indicating to many observers that the investigation is motivated for unseemly reasons.
One sage of local politics explains it this way:
“I think it is Schneiderman looking for points — a “me too” moment — wanting to rile Cuomo. But raiding people’s homes over campaign funds takes us to a new local anti-constitutional low.
I notice that the usual Pigeon haters are subdued on this one — perhaps because the specter of a Attorney General with a clear ‘political axe to grind.’ Informing the media he is going to raid three politicians’ homes so the media can be there in time to look for campaign bullshit has made even the Pigeon haters empathize with him over the shockingly naked aggression of it.
‘First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew…’
Instead of speaking out against Pigeon they are mute — over the injustice of it.
Schneiderman is coming under fire from both Democrat factions for what they say, strictly off the record, is “a personally motivated Soviet style prosecution of a political opponent.”
Others say that Schneiderman better have solid proof of seriously criminal activities, or his own political future may be in jeopardy. Pigeon and his political allies are unlikely to allow the AG to smear his name in the media without consequence. If the AG does not file criminal charges against Pigeon and his associates, they are likely to file an abuse of process complaint.
Schneiderman may still be able to come out on top, but only if his investigation uncovers substantive wrongdoing — not on the part of operatives, but among elected officials themselves. It is widely thought that Mayor Byron Brown and Maurice Garner — the founder of a formerly powerful Eastside political club — are the targets of the investigation.
Pigeon is looking to cooperate with the FBI and AG’s office. His lawyers have said publicly that their “solicitations for cooperation” have been ignored.
On abuse of process complaints, from Wikipedia:
Abuse of process is a cause of action in tort arising from one party making a malicious and deliberate misuse or perversion of regularly issued court process (civil or criminal) not justified by the underlying legal action. It is a common law intentional tort. It is to be distinguished from malicious prosecution, another type of tort that involves misuse of the public right of access to the courts.
The elements of a valid cause of action for abuse of process in most common law jurisdictions are as follows: (1) the existence of an ulterior purpose or motive underlying the use of process, and (2) some act in the use of the legal process not proper in the regular prosecution of the proceedings. Abuse of process can be distinguished from malicious prosecution, in that abuse of process typically does not require proof of malice, lack of probable cause in procuring issuance of the process, or a termination favorable to the plaintiff, all of which are essential to a claim of malicious prosecution. “Process,” as used in this context, includes not only the “service of process,” i.e. an official summons or other notice issued from a court, but means any method used to acquire jurisdiction over a person or specific property that is issued under the official seal of a court.Typically, the person who abuses process is interested only in accomplishing some improper purpose that is collateral to the proper object of the process and that offends justice, such as an unjustified arrest or an unfounded criminal prosecution. Subpoenas to testify, attachments of property, executions on property, garnishments, and other provisional remedies are among the types of “process” considered to be capable of abuse.
The only thing that is certain at this early hour of the joint FBI/AG investigation is this: Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has gone all in and has bet his entire political future on a rather bold and potentially dangerous maneuver. Undoubtedly, being able to deliver a three term Mayor of Buffalo to federal prison would look good on any politician’s resume.