Search Results for ‘schneiderman’

Eric Schneiderman’s herbal-supplements adventure

“Never apologize, never explain” is not a maxim to recommend for a state’s top law enforcer, and that goes for New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the subject of my recent City Journal piece. Early this year Schneiderman charged that herbal supplements on sale at GNC, Walmart and other major retailers, when subjected to special tests arranged by his office, were found to lack DNA associated with the advertised herbs. Within days close observers and experts in the field had deduced why Schneiderman’s tests had produced such remarkable results: he had relied on testing methods badly unsuited to identifying active ingredients in substances that, like most of the supplements, had undergone extensive processing [see, e.g., Nicola Twilley, New Yorker; Live Science; Bill Hammond, New York Daily News]

Other officials might have beat a timely retreat. Schneiderman’s office instead dug in, refusing to apologize, back down or even publicly disclose key facts about its testing methods. I’ve done a Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown about the whole episode, including what is perhaps the most ominous aspect: such is the legal leverage of a New York attorney general that the targets chose to settle anyway. City Journal piece, again, here.

Schneiderman demands 225,000 NYC AirBnB users’ records

Because you thought he was some kind of big privacy advocate or something? “Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed the data as part of an investigation into the website stemming from a 2010 law that makes it illegal to use such sites to rent out your own apartment.” He says he’s after the 15,000 or so customers who used the service to let guests stay on their premises for a fee. Next: Craigslist? [New York Daily News, Matt Welch/Reason]

Schneiderman vs. market-clearing prices

Some politicians just want there to be random shortages [WSJ editorial]:

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has subpoenaed the Craigslist website for the identities of people who advertised gas for sale at high prices. Mr. Schneiderman is doing this in the name of a New York law that forbids charging an “unconscionably excessive price” during an “abnormal disruption in the market.”

School and college roundup

  • Far-reaching, legally dubious new mandate: 37-page “Dear Colleague” letter from Washington launches new “education equity initiative” directing local schools to ensure all children “equal access to educational resources” [R. Shep Melnick, Education Next and WSJ]
  • “‘Tag is not banned,’ [the school district] insisted.” [Fred Barbash, Washington Post; Lenore Skenazy; Mercer Island, Wash.]
  • University of Texas now blurs racial preferences into “holistic” admission review, Supreme Court should take look [Ilya Shapiro]
  • Feds vs. due process: Michigan State case goes well beyond itself-notorious OCR Dear Colleague letter [KC Johnson; related Hans Bader on Tufts and other cases] Emily Yoffe: not so fast on latest “one in five” study [Slate; more, Stuart Taylor Jr.] “You cannot build justice for women on injustice for men.” [powerful Wendy McElroy speech debating Jessica Valenti]
  • Trashing copies of a student paper to keep content from being read? 171 Wesleyan students/alums: “Go for it!” [Popehat, Scott Greenfield] “Editorial independence remains a huge priority for us” says the Wesleyan Argus editor. Doesn’t sound as if her adversaries see it that way [Robby Soave, Reason]
  • Robert Klitzman: Institutional Review Boards at research institutions could benefit from transparency and respect for precedent [via Zachary Schrag]
  • Donald Trump’s battle with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over proprietary “Trump University” [Emma Brown, Washington Post]

The very model of a Left attorney general

My lengthy profile of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in the new City Journal ranges over many topics, including mortgage and Wall Street settlements; Uber, Lyft, AirBnB and the sharing economy; unions’ efforts to light legal fires under fast-food operators; the unreconstructed Left politics of Manhattan’s Upper East Side; and much more, including Schneiderman’s dubious campaign against herbal supplement retailers. One section that I hope is of interest beyond New York is a sidebar on the politics of state attorney general offices. An excerpt:

…State attorneys general really took off as players on the national scene in the 1970s and 1980s, a period in which the number of staff attorneys in AG offices quadrupled, according to figures in Paul Nolette’s new book, Federalism on Trial. Once the National Association of Attorneys General, or NAAG, began to take a more active role in helping beef up and coordinate formerly scattered efforts, multistate AG litigation, in which many state offices band together to file suit, began to grow, from fewer than five cases a year three decades ago to 40 to 50 cases a year more recently.

Is this a spontaneous upsurge reflecting the decentralized genius of our system? Not quite: as Nolette explains, Congress was, in fact, busy over this period funneling federal grants to state AG offices to build up their strike-force capacity against business defendants, while revamping laws to give them more enforcement power. The executive branch helped, too: “[F]ederal agencies have aggressively promoted [state AG] litigation working groups,” Nolette writes….

The tobacco episode — and the idea it encouraged that AGs should step in to reform national industries through litigation and master settlement when the U.S. Congress declined to do so — changed everything. One of its consequences was to send hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars in settlement money sloshing through the formerly sleepy AG offices:

…It’s common for AGs’ offices to keep at least enough money from settlements to cover their own investigation; state laws vary widely, however, on whether they have to turn over surplus money to a general fund. When they don’t do so, the AG office can quickly become a power center, handing out (in effect) appropriations that bypass the state legislature’s scrutiny. In states like Arkansas, Massachusetts, and West Virginia, AG offices have channeled settlement funds to health nonprofits, police and fire charities, and agencies of their own choosing within state, county, and local government. Other favored beneficiaries include legal-aid programs, bar associations, and law schools—the legal profession being, of course, a key political constituency of any AG’s office. With control over big money flows, smart AGs can populate a political landscape with grateful allies. …

Last week I linked a sidebar on the legal system’s failure to protect businesses (small banks, in this case) from the exercise of arbitrary authority by officials like Schneiderman. While my piece is critical of his enforcement actions, it also makes clear that most of what he’s up to simply applies the set of far-reaching powers assembled by earlier state attorneys general before him, from Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo in New York to figures in other states like Jerry Brown, Richard Blumenthal, Jim Hood, and even Bill Clinton. Whole thing here.

August 26 roundup

  • Government as source of product misinformation [David Henderson notes my City Journal discussion of NY AG Eric Schneiderman’s crusade on herbal supplements]
  • “Under Armour is suing pretty much every company using the name ‘Armor'” [Washington Post]
  • Maryland police unions defend LEOBR (“bill of rights”) tenure laws [my Free State Notes, Ed Krayewski, Scott Greenfield]
  • Someone uses an iPhone to transact Islamic State business; could a court find Apple liable for providing material support for terrorism? [Benjamin Wittes, Zoe Bedell, Lawfare]
  • Maybe green-lighting a union for tax collecting staff wasn’t such a hot idea in the first place [Washington Post]
  • Seventh Circuit: “Appeals court apologizes for literally misplacing case for five years as lawyers wondered what was taking so long” [Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog]
  • For the sake of professional dignity, in future employ authorized methods only: “Italian lawyer steals French tourist’s wallet” [The Local, Italy]

One small banker’s warning

Small banks and other regulated businesses now live at the permission of arbitrary regulators in a legal system that no longer protects individual rights. That’s the message of a letter sent to shareholders earlier this year by Frank H. Hamlin III, CEO of the small Canandaigua National Bank in upstate New York. In particular, Hamlin cites the way the office of New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman has pushed around two other upstate banks (not his) on ill-defined redlining charges based on doing too much of their lending in the suburbs. I write about it in a new post at Cato at Liberty.

The piece is a sidebar from a much longer piece I wrote on Schneiderman’s record in the Summer issue of City Journal, newly online. I’ll have more to say next week about other parts of that article.

New York investigates retailers over unpredictable schedules

“New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, has sent a letter to 13 retailers asking for information about how they schedule employees for work, the Wall Street Journal reports. Not on the list of targets for the attorney general: CVS, Starbucks, or Costco.” New York is one of eight states with a “reporting-time” statute that, Schneiderman argues, requires an employer to pay for at least four hours of work when it has obtained employees’ agreement to be available for work, whether or not it actually calls on them to come in. [Ira Stoll, Future of Capitalism; NPR]