Updated: 05/11/2014 2:21 PM
Created: 05/11/2014 1:09 PM WHEC.com
John Cahill, the former chief adviser to Republican Gov. George Pataki, announced Sunday that he's running for state attorney general against Democratic incumbent Eric Schneiderman.
Cahill said he intends to advocate for all New Yorkers as both the public's prosecutor and defender. Alluding to at least two previous attorneys general, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Cahill said the office has become a political stepping stone to the governor's mansion.
"Recently here in New York, we have seen the AG serve not as the attorney general but rather as the aspiring governor," Cahill said from his hometown, Yonkers. "We see that this leads to decisions based on the special interests, political interests and self-interests of the attorney general rather than what is in the best interests of the people of New York."
Cuomo and Spitzer, both Democrats, held the office when they ran for governor. Schneiderman, 59, is running for a second term as attorney general.
The office has a staff of more than 600 lawyers. It defends the state in lawsuits, protects consumers, files lawsuits, monitors charities and sometimes conducts investigations and prosecutions.
Schneiderman is looking forward to talking with voters about what he's done in office, spokesman Peter Ajemian said Sunday. He said Schneiderman has spent his career working for equal justice for New Yorkers, "whether it's going after fraudulent financial practices, prosecuting more than 40 people in public corruption cases, or helping keep 25,000 families from losing their homes."
The 55-year-old Cahill on Sunday emphasized access to a good school as a civil rights issue and said it shouldn't depend on a student's ZIP code or neighborhood. He noted limited space in charter schools, "renewed assaults" against charters and Albany's failure to provide education tax credits to strengthen schools and give parents choices.
"The AG has not only the standing but the obligation to stand up for the children of our state," Cahill said, adding that it's time to empower parents and children, not bureaucracies. "What New York students need is a good lawyer. I will be their lawyer."
Pataki was governor from 1995 to 2006. Cahill and Pataki later founded a consulting firm on environmental and energy issues. Both are listed as counsel with the Chadbourne & Parke law firm in Manhattan.
Cahill said Sunday that with the right oversight, New York's natural gas can be tapped to boost the economy while protecting the environment.
Cahill was Pataki's secretary and chief of staff from 2002 to 2006. He was general counsel, then commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation from 1995 to 2001.
Pataki named Cahill to a four-year term on the Temporary State Commission on Investigation, with authority to take complaints and probe government corruption, immediately before he left office. The commission closed in 2009.