Former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is set to receive a gross annual pension of $63,948 after filing for retirement last month.
Schneiderman filed for retirement June 5, the state comptroller’s office confirmed Thursday. Schneiderman will collect a gross monthly pension of $5,329, or $63,948 annually, from the state. He received his first payment at the end of June.
Schneiderman was an employee of the state for about two decades before his abrupt resignation in May amid domestic violence allegations. He was first elected to the State Senate in 1998, where he served until his election as attorney general in 2010. Schneiderman replaced Andrew Cuomo, who was elected governor.
His fall from grace was quick. He announced his departure from office just three hours after an article from The New Yorker detailed the accounts of four women that said Schneiderman was physically violent and emotionally abusive toward them.
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas was appointed by Cuomo as a special prosecutor to investigate those claims in May. Cuomo also directed Singas to look at the Attorney General’s Office itself to see if there was “any facilitation by the office or any cooperation by the office as a secondary, but related matter,” he said. Her office has not announced charges as of Thursday.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance had originally opened an investigation into Schneiderman days after his resignation, but was accused of having a conflict of interest in the matter. Schneiderman’s office was investigating Vance for his decision not to prosecute former film mogul Harvey Weinstein on sexual assault charges in 2015.
If Schneiderman is prosecuted and convicted on sexual assault or harassment charges outside of his role as attorney general, he will still collect his pension in full. The state’s laws on pension forfeiture only strip an elected official’s pension if they are convicted of a crime related to their office.
The law is also not retrospective. It only applies to crimes committed after January 2018. The claims in The New Yorker article were alleged to have happened before then.
Schneiderman in May retained Isabelle Kirshner from Clayman & Rosenberg, a firm that has often represented lawyers in criminal cases.
Schneiderman has mostly been out of the public spotlight since his resignation, but the office he vacated has not.
The events set off a flurry of interest in the position of state attorney general, starting with who would be Schneiderman’s immediate replacement.
The Legislature chose former Solicitor General Barbara Underwood to serve the rest of Schneiderman’s term. She had already been serving as his acting replacement while lawmakers mulled the decision.
Underwood is not running to be elected to the office in November. That field is already crowded.
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James has the backing of the state Democratic Party. She’s competing against Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney from the Hudson Valley, Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout, and former Cuomo aide Leecia Eve in the Democratic primary. That contest is set for Sept. 13.
Keith Wofford, an attorney from New York City, is the state Republican Party’s candidate for the spot.
There were rumors that others would get in the race, but those were quickly dismissed. Rep. Kathleen Rice, who ran for the seat in 2010, was interested but ultimately declined to run. She said state law would prohibit her from seeking two offices at once. Maloney disagrees with that claim.
Some suggested former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara would run as an independent. Bharara has not said he will not run for the seat, but he told the New York Times last year that he had no plans to seek any office.
“I don’t think I would enjoy politics in any shape or form,” Bharara said. “The way I say it respectfully—as an Indian-American and given the tea-drinking habits of my parents—it’s not my cup of tea.”
Election day is Nov. 6.