NY AG Schneiderman dodges open-records law

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has championed greater transparency for government and groups in his cross-hairs during his three-plus years as the state's top law enforcement official. But when it comes to his own dealings with a powerful political consultant and close adviser, Mr. Schneiderman is shielding them from public view—under legal reasoning some leading experts say is clearly wrong.

In March, Crain's filed an open-records request with the state attorney general seeking any emails since 2011 between any employee of his office (including Mr. Schneiderman himself) and Jennifer Cunningham. Ms. Cunningham is one of the state's top political consultants and is also Mr. Schneiderman’s former wife. The two divorced in 1996, but the relationship remained amicable enough that she served as the media and advertising director for his successful 2010 attorney general campaign.

In rejecting the request, Mr. Schneiderman's office cited an advisory opinion from 2010 by the State Committee on Open Government, a governmental office that monitors open-records requests. Yet the author of that very opinion told Crain's Tuesday that Mr. Schneiderman’s legal interpretation of it is incorrect—and that the 2010 advisory opinion does not apply to Ms. Cunningham’s situation. Continue>>>