Dan Donovan: ‘I’m No Sheriff of Wall Street’


The most disturbing story of the day on the state political beat is the Reuters piece quoting Republican attorney general candidate Dan Donovan. It confirms my worst fears about him and makes Tuesday’s Democratic primary all the more important.

The headline is “NY Republican candidate: I’m no sheriff of Wall Street.”
All that was missing in the story is Donovan’s explicit solicitation of five-figure checks from banks, hedges and the rest of the gang that gutted America. A two-term district attorney who should know better, Donovan is quoted as saying that “caution” is needed in dealing with Wall Street malfeasance and that he “would make sure not to send the wrong message to a vital industry that could opt to ‘go anywhere.'”

That is the antithesis of a law enforcement perspective, which, simply put, is “commit the crime and you do the time.”

Prosecutors are supposed to be our single-standard sentries who will go after anyone, pursuing justice wherever the evidence takes them. Donovan, apparently, has a different attitude about a “vital industry” than about corporate crime on less lofty a street, or on any other form of crime.

Listen to this list of Donovan attention-and-contribution grabbers:

*Not all the cases brought against Wall Street wrongdoing in the last 10 years “were actually substantiated.” There have been “a lot of exonerations. Until the Staten Island DA spoke, most of us have been thinking the Wall Street guys were getting away with economic murder. Little did we know they’ve been oppressed by ham-fisted assistants working for Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo.

*”It’s only been known as the sheriff of Wall Street for eight years. I would take a fair approach. There’s no need to look for corruption where there isn’t any.”

*Voters shouldn’t be afraid, said Donovan, that he is “looking to make headlines for myself at the expense of people who are in business. I’m not doing this for any notoriety.” Donovan said he “would focus his tenure on tackling political fraud and corruption, staying away from headline-grabbing announcements,” as if the only reason to indict a Wall Street grafter would be to get a media boost.

A search of Donovan’s website reveals how consistent this story is with his campaign. Donovan specifies 11 issues facing the new AG, listed on a non-alphabetical, priority basis, and financial and mortgage fraud are the final two. This is what he says about financial fraud:

“The AG of NY has a long history of protecting investors and consumers from financial crimes, but we must promote fair markets and not bring cases simply to get headlines. Wall Street is the financial backbone of our state, and we must ensure that it continues to create jobs and remains the economic generator our state depends on.”

This is an argument to take a pass on cases that could hurt the economy. No wonder Mike Bloomberg endorsed Donovan the day he announced and is fundraising for him. Illegal guns and sex offenders, as well as immigration reform and terrorism (neither of which are matters the AG can materially affect), rank higher on Donovan’s list than pursuing the stock analysts that defrauded investors, like Spitzer did, or the bonus babies, like Cuomo did. The Donovan candidacy is now unveiled as Bloomberg’s gift to his company’s customers.

With just days to go before the September 14 primary, Donovan’s pay-to-stay-away pitch for campaign dollars makes it crucial that Democrats nominate a candidate who can beat him. It is no secret that Bloomberg allies have been quietly trying to bolster Eric Schneiderman, a Democratic front runner regarded by the Bloomberg/Donovan axis as the weakest of the possible primary winners. A Cuomo endorsement could tilt the primary to a Schneiderman alternative — be it Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, Sean Coffey or Eric DiNallo (Cuomo has said he is only considering these three).

If Cuomo sits it out and Schneiderman winds up his running mate, he will be stuck with a November choice, just like the rest of us, between two successors that are captives of competing special interests — Schneiderman and the public employee unions versus Donovan and Wall Street.