Monday, August 23, 2010


Below is the New York Daily News endorsement for our next Attorney General:

Five Democrats are competing in a primary election campaign to become the party's standard-bearer for New York State attorney general. Eric Dinallo is the choice in the field.

Dinallo offers a blend of first-rate legal, executive and regulatory experience that is unique among the contenders and equips him best to lead New York's top law office amid rising challenges.

With substantial accomplishments in the public and private sectors, Dinallo's range extends from the guts of Wall Street to the workings of the health insurance industry - both of which will be high on the agenda.

And he has been nothing if not effective under some very high-pressure circumstances.

During a stint as a bureau chief in the attorney general's office, Dinallo devised the legal strategies that thrust the agency to the forefront of cracking down on financial industry conflicts of interest. In the process, he won a $1.4 billion settlement from 10 big banks.

Later, serving as state insurance superintendent, Dinallo played a critical role in stabilizing AIG when the company's exposure to subprime mortgage securities threatened the economy.

Bottom line: Dinallo has gotten the job done across a career that also included prosecuting violent and white-collar crime for the Manhattan district attorney, advising financial firms on following the rules and, now, serving as a professor of business ethics at New York University.

His track record gives good ground to believe that Dinallo would deliver on an agenda that stacks up favorably against the platforms of his four rivals.

All start with the promise of being an attorney general who would bring reform to Albany, both from a bully pulpit and by winning new powers from the Legislature to investigate corruption. Dinallo goes a next crucial step with creative tactics to pursue wrongdoing under existing laws and also with a grant of gubernatorial authority.

As New York's chief legal officer, the attorney general commands more than 600 lawyers. Responsibilities stretch from defense of the state in thousands of lawsuits to highly sensitive investigations of fellow officials.

Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo infused the office with activism. In the coming years, that will of necessity entail watchdogging the arrival of health care reform and toughened federal financial regulations. Dinallo offers expertise in both areas, having policed Wall Street and regulated health insurance.

Breadth of experience gives him the edge over a second strong candidate: Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. Elected twice, first in an upset victory and, four years later, by a wide margin, Rice has performed with distinction as DA. Notably, she well served the public good with a crackdown on drunken driving that set a national standard.

Rice brought professionalism and dynamism to an office that had grown sleepy, showing the drive that had previously won her success as a hard-charging homicide prosecutor in Brooklyn and assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia. With excellent reason, voters have been giving Rice close consideration.

The also-rans in the race are trial lawyer Sean Coffey, Manhattan state Sen. Eric Schneiderman and Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky.

Raised on Long Island as the son of immigrants, Coffey graduated from the Naval Academy, served as a commanding flight officer and was a military assistant to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush.

While rising to captain over 18 years in the reserves, Coffey became a federal prosecutor and both a defense and plaintiffs' lawyer. In the latter role, he waged major securities cases, including recovering $6 billion for shareholders in the WorldCom fraud.

Impressive as his resume is, Coffey is a first-time candidate who is asking to be taken on faith for a major public office. He is further hobbled by baggage:

Coffey and his former firm made substantial contributions to pension fund powerbrokers as the firm sought to represent funds in lucrative lawsuits. He says all assignments were made on the merits.

Although a cut above as lawmakers, Brodsky and Schneiderman suffer from having been part of the Albany problem, not the Albany solution, as members of the Legislature.

The primary is Sept. 14. The winner will face Republican Dan Donovan, the Staten Island district attorney, in November. A judgment on that matchup awaits. For now, Democrats would be wise to rally behind Eric Dinallo. He has the solid endorsement of the Daily News.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

He's the pretty obvious winner of the field. I can't find any negatives to dismiss his candidacy. I do feel a little apprehensive about this endorsement by a tabloid though. A NYT endorsement might be more positive, (along with a scathing rebuke by the WSJ.)