The Rev. Al Sharpton, our next Attorney General?

This piece originally appeared in the Long Island Herald.

As hard as it may be to believe, that’s what State Senator Eric Schneiderman, the Democrat running for state attorney general, would have you believe. Schneiderman vowed that if he’s elected in November, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and the House of Justice, its Harlem headquarters, “will have an annex in Albany for the first time in state history.”

God help us.

Politicians have been known to do a lot of pandering to get elected, but this is an all-time low.

It gets even worse. Schneiderman’s remarks came before the Democratic primary, after Sharpton had endorsed him over his Democratic opponents. Schneiderman called Sharpton’s endorsement the “Good Housekeeping seal of approval from the man from the House of Justice.” In fact, while standing with Sharpton on the steps of City Hall, Schneiderman was so enamored that he said he would follow in Sharpton’s footsteps in pursuing justice for New Yorkers.

In response, Schneiderman’s Republican challenger, Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, said it was “very telling of the type of administration State Senator Schneiderman would use.”

Donovan is right. To prostitute the office of attorney general for Sharpton’s support is shocking and appalling, and should automatically disqualify Schneiderman from this important office. To say that you would follow in Sharpton’s footsteps is frightening. How soon we forget the case of Tawana Brawley.

The National Action Network is the biggest nonprofit scam in this country. It collects millions of dollars in so-called donations from some of America’s largest corporations. Why would Anheuser-Busch, for example, donate hundreds of thousands annually to Sharpton’s NAN? Simple. Major corporations would rather play nice with the group than run the risk of facing NAN’s public attacks or rallies outside their corporate offices.

NAN has managed to rake in millions annually in contributions, yet it can’t manage to pay its tax bill. At one point, the group owed $1.5 million in back taxes. It has made poor financial decisions, but fortunately, Sharpton has never been elected to public office.

Would you vote for someone who uses Sharpton as his beacon of justice? To elect Schneiderman would be to give Sharpton an office in Albany.

Like Sharpton, Schneiderman also thinks he’s above the law. In July he left the scene of an auto accident that caused $3,000 in damage without so much as leaving a note. It was only after someone fingered him that he spoke up. State law says that when there’s an accident and the owner of the other vehicle damaged isn’t present, it still needs to be reported to the police.

We can’t in good conscience elect someone who uses poor legal judgment when it comes to his own conduct as our top law enforcement officer.

Schneiderman has been a state senator, entrenched in Albany politics, for 12 years.

To me he represents everything that’s wrong with our state government. He has tight ties to powerful teachers’ and health care workers’ unions, and counts the Working Families Party as one of his biggest supporters.

Schneiderman touts comprehensive ethics reform as one of his major legislative accomplishments, yet he forgets to mention that he voted for a compromise bill that included a provision to exempt lawmakers who are lawyers like him from disclosing their client lists.

It’s said that you can judge a man by the company he keeps. Schneiderman supported and helped ensure that his colleague, former Sen. Pedro Espada, remained in his leadership post after he was indicted. So much for comprehensive ethics reform.

An attorney general needs good judgment if he’s going to decide which cases to prosecute. Espada is now under indictment and being investigated by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. If elected, will Schneiderman continue this investigation?

Now that Espada is out of office, perhaps Schneiderman can find a new job for him in the Albany annex of the National Organization for Women.

Schneiderman’s favorable statements about Al Sharpton and NAN are deplorable and should disqualify him from being our state’s top attorney. This isn’t partisan politics. Regardless of whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, this vote is about common sense and good judgment.

Next month, a vote for Schneiderman is essentially a vote to give Al Sharpton and his cronies undue influence on the attorney general’s office. I say, say no!