Tuesday, April 12, 2011

AG Schneiderman and Nonprofit Scrutiny

In today's The Capitol, the paper focuses in on the priorities of the state's new attorney general Eric Schneiderman-and one of his major priorities is public corruption: "Schneiderman’s third priority is to attack public corruption and prove wrong those critics who said that he, as a former member of the Legislature, would turn a blind eye to Albany wrongdoing. If anything, Schneiderman says, his time in Albany gave him a better understanding of the roots of public corruption. “It is a tremendous help to understand how the system works,” he said. “And I think it’s clear I have not hesitated to go after crime and corruption wherever it occurs.”

But it's not corruption in general that he's looking at, but the not for profit sector in particular: "Specifically, Schneiderman says he is directing the charities bureau of his office, which has jurisdiction over nonprofits and, some say, languished under Coumo, to be more aggressive in ferreting out abuses. To that end, his office was recently reported to be targeting several nonprofits that receive funding from Sen. Shirley Huntley, a Queens Democrat."

While Schneiderman is looking at Queens there are bigger fish to fry than Senator Huntley, as we have already pointed out before numerous times. There is an oppen investigation of the Claire Shulman LDC which most certainly "languished" under the former AG-how else to describe an investigation that began in the summer of 2009, one that was based on a pretty cut and dried violation of Section 1411 of the state's not for profit law?

And while he's looking at this matter and examining the role of relatives, the AG should take a look at the role being played by Parkside's Evan Stavisky, the head honcho for the illegal Shulman lobbying operation and the son of State Senator Toby Stavisky, a major proponent of the Willets Point development. To do so, however, would mean targeting not only the Queens power structure, but the role of the mayor as well.

Now that the budget fight is over, Schneiderman can step forward: "With budget season now over, expect Schneiderman to make a grab for the spotlight more often—on mortgage fraud, on investigations into his former colleagues and on other issues."

If the new attorney general is really going to exhibit true independence and courage, he needs do more than go after the low hanging fruit. His willingness to do so will determine his character and legacy.