Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s staunchest legal advocate and SAFE Act defender Eric Schneiderman quit Tuesday amid allegations of sexual abuse.
A former public interest attorney and five-time state senator who was elected to serve as the Empire State’s Attorney General in 2010, Schneiderman announced his abrupt departure from office late Monday after four women came forward to The New Yorker with reports of violence and sexual abuse at his hands.
“In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me,” said Schneiderman in a resignation statement issued just hours after the news broke. “While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time.”
Schneiderman supported Cuomo’s controversial New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act which was rushed into law in 2013 as a response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The strict portfolio of gun control measures, some still in limbo a half-decade later, was defended by Schneiderman to the state Supreme Court as well as in front of federal panels. He has also vigorously prosecuted SAFE Act violators as well as those bringing in guns from out-of-state.
In addition, his office has fended off challenges to the long-standing handgun licensing scheme adopted under the Sullivan Act, gone after toy gun retailers, argued New Yorkers have no Second Amendment right to a stun gun and supported microstamping proposals. Last December, Schneiderman joined with 16 other attorneys general to oppose national concealed carry reciprocity legislation tracking in Congress.
Schneiderman is not the first SAFE Act architect that has fallen from grace. Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a key player in the adoption of the gun control legislation, was found guilty in 2015 of a series of federal corruption charges although the conviction was later overturned on appeal. State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who suspending the chamber’s rules in 2013 to bring the SAFE Act to the floor and advocated its passage, was also convicted on federal corruption charges in 2015 and is facing a retrial set for later this year.