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Leecia Eve, NY AG Candidate, Says She'll Fight Against 'Orwellian' Trump

Leecia Eve
Leecia Eve campaign
Leecia Eve

Leecia Eve is one of four candidates running in the September 13 Democratic primary for New York attorney general. Eve believes her background makes her more qualified to hold the office than her opponents.

Eve is not well known in a race where 40 percent of potential Democratic primary voters still don’t know the candidates. A recent Siena College survey puts her support at just 4 percent.  But Eve says voters are just tuning in now for the election to be held in less than a month, and she’s ramping up her campaign, buying air time for ads and releasing a digital video. It features a quote from President Trump at a campaign rally in late July, as Eve reads a passage from George Orwell’s book 1984.

“What you're seeing and reading is not what’s happening,” says Trump in the video, in a clip from the July rally.

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears,” Eve then reads from 1984. “It was their final, most essential command.”

Eve says she truly believes things really are that scary.

“We are living, sadly and frighteningly in Orwellian like times,” Eve said. “And that is why I am running.”

Eve says the temporary attorney general, Barbara Underwood is doing a great job pursuing legal action against Trump, including a criminal case against the Trump Foundation, and she says she’d continue and expand that work.

Underwood replaced Democrat Eric Schneiderman, who resigned as AG in May after he was accused of assaulting women that he dated. Schneiderman has said the incidents were consensual.

Eve says the position of New York attorney general is one of the most important brakes against the excesses of the Trump administration, along with special federal prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Eve is the daughter of the influential former Buffalo Assemblyman Arthur Eve, who served 36 years in the Assembly. Arthur Eve rose to become Deputy Speaker, the first African American to hold the job.

Leecia Eve who graduated from Harvard Law School, has forged her own career, working for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden when they were U.S. senators.  As an attorney, she says she defended citizens’ rights, including fighting for women in prison to be allowed to give birth without having to wear leg shackles. Eve currently lives in Harlem, where she’s the vice president of governmental affairs at Verizon.

Even though she lobbies for one of the nation’s largest corporations, Eve says she’d happily pursue wrong doing in the financial industry. One of her opponents in the primary, New York City Public Advocate Tish James, recently told the New York Times that she would not welcome the moniker “The Sheriff of Wall Street”, first earned by former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.  Eve says she’s prepared to “go after bad corporate actors” and doesn’t understand why anyone would “equivocate” about that.   

“The last thing that we need are corporations, whether within the financial services industry or outside of it, that are taking New Yorkers for a ride,” Eve said. “I would proudly wear the label of being the “Sheriff of Wall Street’.”  

Eve also wants to make combating corruption in state government a priority. Former leaders of the legislature as well as former close associates of Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo have been charged with corruption related crimes including bribery and bid rigging related to state economic development programs. Eve says it was a “big mistake” for Cuomo to prematurely shut down a Moreland Act Commission on corruption, and says she’d use the powers of the office to go after corruption.

“New York is the poster child in the country for corruption,” said Eve, who says as the daughter of public servants, that “angers” her.

Eve says she does not personally blame the governor, though, for the corruption, and says she plans to vote for Cuomo over his opponent Cynthia Nixon in the gubernatorial primary.

Eve worked from 2011 until 2013 as Cuomo’s chief economic development advisor.  She left the agency before the current economic development corruption scandals occurred. Eve remains a Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, where she was appointed by the governor. But she says she’d be independent of the governor, if elected.

Another of Eve’s opponents in the Attorney General primary, Zephyr Teachout, is seeking permanent criminal and civil referral for all sexual harassment cases in state government. Eve agrees with that idea. She says her experience helping craft and implement the Violence Against Women Act when she worked for then-Senator Joe Biden.

“I will aggressively investigate those allegations,” says Eve, who says it the charges are proven true she will “aggressively prosecute them.”

The fourth candidate in the primary is Hudson Valley Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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