Three Brooklynites Possible Schneiderman Replacement

Helene Weinstein

In the fallout of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s resignation following allegations  of sexual-related assault from four women, three Brooklnites are rumored to be in the running as temporary appointments to replace him until the election later this year. 

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein
Assemblyman Joe Lentol
Public Advocate Letitia James

Among the names being mentioned are Assembly members Helene Weinstein (D-Flatlands, Sheepshead Bay) and Joseph Lentol (D-Williamsburg, Greenpoint), and Public Advocate Letitia James, who lives in Fort Greene and used to represent the area when she was a city council member.

As laid out in Section 41 of the state’s Public Officers Law, the Senate and Assembly, in a joint session, will pick someone to fill the open seat. “When a vacancy occurs or exists, other than by removal, in the office of comptroller or attorney-general … the two houses thereof, by joint ballot, shall appoint a person to fill such actual or prospective vacancy,” reads the law.

Schneiderman’s successor would finish out the remainder of his four-year term, which runs through the end of the year.

While neither Weinstein, Lontol or James made statements regarding their intentions, multiple media sources say they are being talked about as possible attorney general replacements.

Weinstein was elected to the Assembly in 1980 and became the first woman to lead the assembly’s powerful Ways and Means Committee late last year. Previously she was the first woman to chair the assembly’s Judiciary Committee.

Lentol was an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn before he was elected to the Assembly in 1972 and is one of the longest-serving Assembly members in the state legislature.

James is an attorney and harbored interests in the Brooklyn district attorney’s job after the late DA Ken Thompson died last year, but ultimately supported current DA Eric Gonzalez. However, rumor is James is expected to make a bid for mayor in 2021, a race set to pin her against the likes of Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Comptroller Scott Stringer.

It will be up to legislative leaders when to call the session, a process to be led by the majority Democratic Assembly and Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx). 

According to The New Yorker, who first broke the story, four former love interests of Schneiderman are accusing him of non-consensual physical violence including repeated beatings often after nights of drinking and frequently in bed and without their consent. Two of the women who have come forward, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, categorize the behavior as “assault.”

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

Schneiderman immediately resigned from his post following the public allegations, denying the accusations and promising to challenge the women.

“It’s been my great honor and privilege to serve as Attorney General for the people of the State of New York. In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me. While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018,” said Schneiderman.

The public statement by Schneiderman did little to quell public fallout with many elected officials being shocked by the news. Schneiderman will now join a long list of men who in the past year have been accused of abuse against women including Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Louis C.K.

Congressman Dan Donovan

“This is a shocking exposure of a deeply disturbed man who pretended to care about women’s rights, but committed atrocious abuse behind closed doors and used his position as the state’s highest law enforcement officer to threaten them, For the protection of all women, he must immediately resign or be removed from office and be investigated for his crimes,” said Congressman Dan Donovan (R-South Brooklyn, Staten Island)

“I am shocked and deeply saddened at the news concerning Eric Schneiderman. These are extremely serious allegations, and there can be zero tolerance for the kind of violence against women that has been alleged. I think he has done the right thing for himself, his family, and the people of New York by announcing his resignation as Attorney General of New York,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-Western Brooklyn, Western Manhattan)

However, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I-Brooklyn/Staten Island) feels the decision to replace the disgraced official should be made by a vote of the people and not the state legislature.

“The New York Constitution should be changed to allow the people, not the legislature, to fill attorney general and state comptroller vacancies. These offices are supposed to serve as checks and balances, but how can they be truly independent when members of the legislature, with particularly strong influence from the assembly speaker, select them?

Malliotakis went on to announce that she will in turn introduce legislation aimed at amending state law in regards to state legislature vacancies.

Assemblyman Walter Mosley

Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley (D-Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Crown Heights) echoed these sentiments, saying he who hopes the next attorney general represents the diversity of the population of New Yorkers.

“As the Attorney General steps down, we must consider who will become our state’s next chief law enforcement officer. The public deserves an individual who understands that New York is diverse and inclusive and be willing to ensure that all of her people are represented. Immigrants and working families need to know that they will be protected as our President continues to make it increasingly difficult for them to make a home, raise their families and work as productive members of society,” said Mosley.