The New York attorney general should be one of the most influential in the nation. Our sweeping laws protecting civil rights, consumers and the environment, combined with the authority to prosecute financial fraud, give the officeholder a lot of power.
But only if those muscles are flexed. Unlike his predecessors, Democrat Eric Schneiderman of Manhattan hasn't put much up on the scoreboard.
Fortunately, Republican challenger John Cahill of Yonkers has the professionalism and experience to return luster to this office.
Cahill, 56, was chief of staff to former Gov. George Pataki and before that the respected head of the Department of Environmental Conservation. He has an ambitious agenda and a management style that will attract a bipartisan team of top legal talent.
Schneiderman says his biggest achievement is getting billions of dollars from the nationwide settlements with financial institutions for their role in the 2008 financial meltdown. But the money would have come anyway. Cahill joins critics who are disappointed Schneiderman didn't put any of those responsible for fraud in jail.
Schneiderman, 59, never assembled a stellar staff of lawyers and a defining agenda. Instead, he relied on political operatives to set priorities. The most obvious example was his smackdown of Airbnb, a lodgings website that allows peers to sell and buy services. Airbnb shouldn't be allowed to facilitate illegal hotels, but the massive subpoena drop to obtain personal data of Airbnb hosts was overkill and done at the behest of the hotel trade unions. Instead, the attorney general's office should eliminate outdated laws while drafting new regulations that would protect consumers and allow these business of the future to thrive.
amNewYork endorses Cahill.