Anyone still remember Eric Schneiderman? The former Attorney General for New York State was a major Trump critic and media gadfly. He also made a lot of noise about supporting the #MeToo movement, at least until four women accused him of sexual harassment and/or assault (specifically slapping or choking them) and he was forced to immediately resign.
Having a team of attorneys on hand to fight off those sorts of accusations can get a little pricey and Schneiderman’s case was no exception. But he managed to pay all of those legal bills in a timely fashion… using donor money from the Eric Schneiderman 2018 reelection campaign. That may not have technically broken any laws, but it’s raising plenty of eyebrows in New York nonetheless. (NY Post)
Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman used nearly $340,000 in political campaign funds to pay the law firm that represented him during an investigation of allegations that he physically abused several women, according to campaign finance reports reviewed by The Associated Press.
The practice is legal, but reform activists say Schneiderman and other politicians are exploiting lax campaign finance rules…
Schneiderman’s re-election committee, Schneiderman 2018, began paying the Clayman & Rosenberg LLP law firm the week after his abrupt May 7 resignation from office, the records show. The last payment was made Dec. 7, a month after a special prosecutor closed the investigation without filing charges.
Those bills added up to just shy of $340K and accounted for nearly half of all of his campaign’s spending after leaving office. One of his victims is going public and saying she feels he should have had to pony up for his legal bills out of his own pocket.
Unfortunately, it turns out that this practice is generally legal, even if it stinks to high heaven. Under New York’s very dodgy campaign finance laws, elected officials are allowed to charge legal fees to their campaign if they “involve matters touching on their official duties.” That’s a vague enough statement to allow them to get away with almost anything. In this case, his attorneys were able to show that part of the investigation into Schneiderman related to “whether he used attorney general’s office staff and resources to facilitate or cover up his abuse.”
Isn’t that just a gem of a loophole? Because the investigation looked into possible corruption in his own office, that opened the door to Schneiderman being able to use campaign donations to pay his legal bills fighting the accusations. And all of the people who donated to him, believing that he was going to be reelected and continue working on behalf of the people of New York have no opportunity to get a refund. As the saying goes… good work if you can get it.