Scandalized Schneiderman Steps Down

Photo Credit: Michael Appleton/The New York Times)

Eric Schneiderman has resigned his post as New York State Attorney General following allegations of violence against women. Schneiderman was first elected Attorney General in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014. Prior to becoming Attorney General, Schneiderman had served in the New York State Senate since 1999. Schneiderman’s resignation took effect on May 8, 2018.

On Monday, May 7, The New Yorker published an explosive report detailing four women’s descriptions of the abuse they suffered at Schneiderman’s hands. The chilling story included allegations of slapping, choking, and verbal abuse. One of Schneiderman’s ex-girlfriends stated that he controlled her food intake and made cruel comments about her body, adding that she lost so much weight during the relationship that her hair began to fall out. Another alleged that Schneiderman referred to her as his “property” and called her his “brown slave.” Schneiderman also allegedly threatened to harm two of his accusers if they ended their respective relationships with him. In a bizarre initial response to the allegations, Schneiderman maintained that he had never assaulted anyone, but acknowledged having “engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity.” This comment appeared to lay the groundwork for a claim that Schneiderman’s accusers had consented to his violent behavior. Hours later, Schneiderman announced his resignation; however, he added that he “strongly contest[ed]” the allegations against him. Before these allegations surfaced, Schneiderman had been known as an advocate for women and as a supporter of the #MeToo movement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has appointed Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas to investigate the allegations against Schneiderman and, if appropriate, to prosecute him.

The resignation of former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in the face of allegations of violence against women will affect both the State of New York and the nation in a variety of ways.

First, Schneiderman is only the latest in a series of men that have allegedly hidden their mistreatment of women from the public eye while attaining positions of wealth and power. The allegations against Schneiderman are horrendous and disturbing. No woman should be subjected to abuse, and no man—regardless of his power or position—should get away with such behavior. New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms believes strongly that truth must continue to be exposed, and that our culture needs a change of heart, a change of values, and a change in social norms in regard to violence against women.

Second, Schneiderman’s exit means that one of the loudest voices of opposition to President Donald Trump and his policies is no longer on the scene. According to Politico, “Schneiderman served as the self-appointed field general of the anti-Trump resistance. [The] bombshell abuse allegations changed all that, removing a critical player from the coalition of state Democratic attorneys general confronting the Trump administration on everything from climate policy to immigration.”

State Solicitor General Barbara Underwood temporarily filled the hole as Acting Attorney General. However, New York’s Public Officers Law provides that the State Legislature “shall” vote to fill a vacancy in the Office of the Attorney General. On May 8, 2018, the Legislature appointed Ms. Underwood to serve through the end of 2018, the remainder of Schneiderman’s term.