Cuomo Successors: We Will Police New York Pension Fund Too

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has spent years investigating and prosecuting pay-to-play scandals involving the state’s $130 billion pension fund. Now, with Cuomo on his way out in pursuit of higher office, is there a chance that pension shenanigans will start anew as a new AG gets his or her bearings?

Four candidates — Eric DiNallo, Sean Coffey, Daniel Donovan and Kathleen Rice — are running to succeed Cuomo, and each seems very aware that the New York AG’s job doubles as Wall Street police chief, thanks to the ever-adaptable Martin Act.

So peHUB asked each candidate to comment on how pay-to-play investigations would proceed were they to win in November:

Kathleen Rice
Current position: Nassau County District Attorney
Advantages: Has the support of Democratic leaders in Brooklyn, as well as Suffolk and Nassau Counties; has received political “wink” from Cuomo; Democratic candidates need 25% of the assembly vote to get on the ballot, and Rice is already past that point.
On the pension fund scandal: “Investigating and prosecuting wrongdoing associated with the pension fund will absolutely be a part of Distirct Attorney Rice’s agenda when it comes to holding people accountable, safeguarding taxpayer dollars and ensuring that transparency exists in the system. Investigating corruption and implementing reform in this specific arena will absolutely be a top priority for District Attorney Rice, as it has been for Attorney General Cuomo.”

Eric Dinallo
Position: Best known as former state insurance superintendent, former Spitzer right-hand legal man on research scandals and former Morgan Stanley lawyer
Advantages: He has negotiated with Wall Street before
Statement: “Eric has sought to eliminate the undue influence that money and other benefits have on elected officials. In 2007, as Superintendent of Insurance, Eric set new standards for oversight and review, for instance mandating conflict of interest disclosures for the Comptroller, members of all Comptroller committees, and all outside consultants and investment managers; and in 2009, issuing a ban on placement agents. These regulations were the first amendment to the public pension funds since they were first set in 1978. As Attorney General, Eric will investigate play-to-play and hold those who participate in those cases accountable. His Public Integrity Agenda outlines the steps he would take against public corruption cases, for instance partnering with other state agencies – like the Comptroller’s Office – to join audits and investigations of government; and utilizing the Tweed Law to investigate and prosecute the misappropriation of state and local money. Eric will use the full power of the Attorney General’s Office to combat the abuse of the public trust.”

Daniel Donovan
Current position: Attorney General of Richmond County (aka Staten Island)
Advantages: “Donovan kicked off his campaign…with Mayor Bloomberg by his side.”
Statement: “If elected Attorney General, Dan will scrutinize outside managers, pension trustees and fiduciaries of New York’s state and local pension systems to make sure that all contracts are awarded based on merit, performance and cost, and not campaign contributions, revolving door hires or other classic forms of pay to play politics.”

Sean Coffey
Current position: Class-action trial attorney, former federal prosecutor.
Advantages: He negotiated the giant settlement from banks on the WorldCom case. Bloomberg Markets already called him “Wall Street’s New Nemesis” in 2005, so that saves headline writers a lot of time.
Statement: As the next Attorney General, Sean Coffey will continue to build on the record of recent Attorneys General and prosecute corruption on State Street and Wall Street wherever it exists. To prevent even the perception of pay-to-play schemes in the future, Coffey strongly supports public financing for all statewide office. In particular, he supports public financing for the office of Attorney General and Comptroller. He also supports a public corruption equivalent of the Martin Act, which would give the next AG the tools to prosecute corruption by elected officials more aggressively.”