Democratic Attorney General Wannabe's Duck Debate on Great Fender Bender Scandal

The five Democrats who want to be the state's next attorney general debated for the first time last night at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. Reports are that it was a sedate affair with no good mud-slinging worth relating. To NY1's great dismay, no one raised the biggest campaign issue so far: Why candidate Eric Schneiderman left the scene of a fender bender outside its Chelsea studios this week.

The damaged car bumper -- you can see the unsightly black scrape marks and a gouged-out chunk of tail-light lens the size of a large postage stamp on the station's Web site -- belongs to a NY1 editor, which has helped fuel editorial outrage there where it was initially hedlined as a "hit and run." As well it should, what with repairs estimated at $3,000, a modest sum given standard city body and fender charges.

Can you imagine the editorial fury if Schneiderman's campaign-mobile had hit, say, Fred Dicker's car? Or Barrett's? They'd be turning out the lights on that campaign, singing "Good-night, Schneido."

On the other hand, a candidate can run down an old man in the street with impunity as long as the victim doesn't hold a press card. Bill Bastone and I proved this in the great 1986 gubernatorial campaign when we reported in the Voice how then- Lieutenant Governor candidate Abe Hirschfeld's campaign van had knocked down an elderly gent crossing the street. The van was also going the wrong way on a one-way block under the 59th Street bridge, which kind of upped the irresponsibility quotient. Then there was the testimony from a passenger who told us how Abe had shouted, "Don't slow down!" right after the old gent hit the pavement.

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At the time, Hirschfeld, a decidedly eccentric multimillionaire who was later convicted of trying to kill his business partner, was challenging Mario Cuomo's designated lieutenant governor candidate, the nondescript Stan Lundine, for the nomination. The senior Cuomo was worried that this wacko just might win. Even then, the story never got picked up by other papers, which is pretty much par for the course when ordinary citizens are involved.

In the AG's race, the campaign bank accounts are getting much more attention than anything the candidates themselves have to say. The latest filings came in yesterday and they show Nassau County D.A. Kathleen Rice way out front with a whopping $4.2 million in her kitty; megabucks lawyer Sean Coffey has $2.9 million, most of it his own dough; Schneiderman is third with $2.1 million; former state insurance commissioner Eric Dinallo has $1.7 million, while Westchester assemblyman Richard Brodsky brings up the rear with $1.6 million.

Brodsky's coffers will be soon be overflowing once voters get a look at the Voice's magnificent homage to this dogged legislator's decades of muckraking in this week's issue. All they have to do is find the story on the Web page where the gremlins have hidden it again. Keep looking, I swear it's there someplace.


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