Legislature interviews Underwood, others as potential AG successor

Acting Attorney general Barbara Underwood speaks before a panel of state legislators Tuesday
NYS ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE  FLICKR

The state Legislature has the obligation to choose a temporary Attorney General to fill out the remainder of Schneiderman's term, which runs through the end of the year. "I think the framers of the constitution were smarter than we were, to allow us to provide the checks and balances against the executive branch that are necessary".

Also on Wednesday, a Republican senator and a Democratic senator called on the Legislature to appoint Underwood the interim attorney general and for the state Democratic and Republican committees to cross-endorse her for a full term in November.

The second and final day of the legislature's interviews with candidates for interim attorney general on Wednesday introduced a highly diverse set of candidates, some of whom argued against the appointment of acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood despite her seemingly growing political support.

Underwood was New York's solicitor general until May 8, when Schneiderman resigned after he was accused of assaulting four women in acts that included hitting, slapping and choking.

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Underwood, who said she was stunned by the "deeply disturbing" accusations, said she views herself as a competent caretaker who will provide continuity in the attorney general's office. Schneiderman denies the allegations.

"I know Barbara, I have worked with her and have great respect for her", Lavine said. Panel members said they approved of the fact that she doesn't plan to run for a four-year term. Among those interviewed Tuesday were Assemblymembers Tom Abinanti and Danny O'Donnell, and former Congresswoman and New York City Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman.

U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Long Island Democrat who was considering running for attorney general, announced Tuesday that she'll instead seek a third term in Congress. Michael Gianaris, a Queens Democrat.

State Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, R-Elma, will serve on a bipartisan committee that will vet the candidates interested in becoming New York's temporary attorney general. Republicans have criticized Cuomo for chiming in on the attorney general selection process, saying the state's top legal agency must remain independent from the governor's office.

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