Schneiderman Leaves Successor a Cabinet Full of Trophy Cases
(Bloomberg) -- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman leaves behind a massive caseload of high-profile litigation and investigations when he steps down Tuesday, amid allegations he physically abused four women. Here are some of the highlights, which Schneiderman’s successor vows to carry on to ensure the stability of the office.
- SPECTRUM: Schneiderman has a lawsuit pending against Charter Communications Inc. claiming it ripped off millions of customers with promises of faster internet speed than it could possibly deliver. He said in February 2016 that premium-plan subscribers got internet speeds as much as 90 percent slower than guaranteed in ads by Time Warner Cable, which Charter acquired in 2016 for $55 billion and renamed Spectrum.
- EXXON: For two years Schneiderman has been probing whether Exxon Mobil Corp. misled investors about how climate change could impact its future finances. The attorney general’s office in March won a major courtroom victory when a federal judge threw out Exxon’s lawsuit seeking to stop the investigation, allowing Schneiderman and his Massachusetts counterpart, Maura Healey, to move forward.
- WEINSTEIN: Perhaps the most problematic investigation, at least from a public relations standpoint, is Schneiderman’s February civil rights suit against disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein and his former company Weinstein Co. The suit in New York state court in Manhattan accuses the company of failing to protect its employees from Weinstein’s "pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation, and discrimination."
- FACEBOOK: Schneiderman, Healey and others are looking into the scandal over Facebook Inc.’s links to Cambridge Analytica, the British firm that allegedly helped Donald Trump win the 2016 election. The attorneys general in March sent Facebook a demand letter seeking information about how data from millions of profiles ended up in the U.K. firm’s hands.
- EQUIFAX: Schneiderman is among several attorneys general investigating the data breach at Equifax Inc., which may have compromised the privacy of more than 140 million U.S. consumers, including more than 8 million New Yorkers. He opened the probe in September.
- CRYPTO: In April, Schneiderman asked 13 cryptocurrency exchanges for detailed information about their operations as part of a "fact-finding inquiry." Letters sent by his office sought information on their internal controls and how they protect customer assets to "increase transparency and accountability."
- 2020 CENSUS: New York joined states including California in suing the Trump administration over its plan to ask the citizenship status of participants in the 2020 census, claiming the change will repress responses. Schneiderman called the government’s decision "reckless."
- DREAMERS: New York and 15 other state attorneys general sued the Trump administration in September over the government’s plan to scrap an Obama-era program offering protection from deportation for hundreds of thousands of children of undocumented immigrants. A federal judge blocked the U.S. from ending the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and allowed the case to proceed.
- ENERGY STANDARDS: Schneiderman and his California counterpart, Xavier Becerra, are part of a coalition of states that sued the Department of Energy in June for allegedly violating federal law by refusing to use the new national energy-efficiency standards. The Trump administration was ordered by a federal judge in February to begin using the new rules, which cover portable air conditioners, air compressors and commercial packaged boilers, as well as “uninterruptible power supplies."
- CFPB: Schneiderman said in December 2017 that he and his counterparts from more than a dozen other states were prepared to take matters into their own hands if the administration fails to enforce consumer-protection laws. They raised the alarm after budget director Mick Mulvaney was appointed acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency he had mocked.
- NET NEUTRALITY: Schneiderman and a group of 21 states and the District of Columbia, sued in January to block the Federal Communications Commission’s "illegal" rollback of net neutrality. The stakes are high, with Schneiderman saying at the time that equal access to the internet is crucial for democracy itself.
- VANCE: Schneiderman has been investigating Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s 2015 decision to not pursue a sexual abuse case against Harvey Weinstein following allegations by an Italian model who went to New York police with her claims against the director two years before his behavior was exposed.
- RMBS: Under Schneiderman’s leadership, New York has recovered almost $4 billion from banks over their marketing of toxic residential mortgage-backed securities that triggered the financial crisis. In March, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc became one of the latest to settle, agreeing to pay $500 million.
- KUSHNER HOUSING: Schneiderman said in March that his office would meet with tenant representatives to discuss a report by a housing watchdog group that claims Jared Kushner’s family real-estate firm under-reported the number of rent-regulated units in dozens of buildings to escape extra scrutiny of construction projects.
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