Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. made the worst kept secret in New York City politics official on Friday morning: He will not seek a fourth term in office.
The three-term incumbent Democrat, known for prosecuting movie mogul Harvey Weinstein for sex crimes and for leading a financial investigation into former President Donald Trump, had not conducted an active re-election campaign over the past year, and was absent from debates.
Three months away from the June 22 Democratic primary, Vance decided to make it official. In a statement, he looked back on the last 12 years of accomplishments and said that he worked to make the Manhattan DA’s office more effective and more cooperative with the communities it serves.
“I never imagined myself as District Attorney for decades like my predecessors,” Vance said, a reference to the late Robert Morgenthau, whom Vance succeeded in 2009 after Morgenthau’s 35-year run of the office. “I never thought of this as my last job, even though it’s the best job and biggest honor I’ll ever have. I said twelve years ago that change is fundamentally good and necessary for any institution. Having secured these lasting impacts in our communities, our public policy, and our crimefighting capacity, the time has come to open the pathway for new leadership at the Manhattan DA’s Office.”
Vance expressed pride in the work, he said, his office had done over the last 12 years to make the office more cooperative and accountable to the community.
“One, we built safer and stronger communities – not just by winning in court, but by making sustained investments in our neighborhoods so that fewer people became involved in the justice system in the first place. Two, we made enduring, systemic reforms – using the power of our discretion to massively reduce our criminal justice footprint and the inequities that underlie unnecessary prosecutions,” Vance said. “And three, we modernized our office to future-proof our neighbors against cybercrime, terrorism, trafficking, and other 21st-century threats. Together, we took one of the great public law offices of the 20th century and transformed it for the 21st.”
As head of the Manhattan DA’s office, Vance took on a number of high-profile court cases during his 12 years. In February 2020, he successfully gained a conviction against Weinstein, who was found guilty of raping and sexually abusing two women in a case that came to the public fore through the #MeToo movement.
Over the last year, Vance also fought attorneys for Trump as he sought the former president’s tax returns as part of an ongoing bank and tax fraud investigation into the former president and the Trump Organiation.
Twice, Trump’s attorneys took the Manhattan DA all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to keep the financial records out of Vance’s hands — and twice, the Supreme Court ruled that Vance needed access to them.
The Manhattan DA’s office finally got Trump’s tax records after the latest Supreme Court ruling on Feb. 22. After the Court’s decision was made, Vance had issued a simple statement about it: “The work continues.”