Why New York attorneys general are such power-mad freaks


We’ll just keep the great headlines going with this one from good ole’ Charlie Gasparino.

And in fairness to the New York AGs, most politicians, especially ones with real power, are often power-mad freaks. Power is a drug, it is addictive and people abuse it, often.

(From The New York Post)

The fact that two of the last three men who served as New York attorney general were ousted from public life for sexual misbehavior clearly will overshadow a much bigger problem: The job is structured to attract the worst pols by granting them immense prosecutorial power to crush targets and feed their ambition.

The key problem stems from something called the Martin Act, which was passed in 1921 to root out local business corruption, and for the most part didn’t garner many headlines until one of these hyper-ambitious attorneys general, Eliot Spitzer, figured out he could tap into the public’s dislike of Wall Street and bludgeon any bank or banker who got in his way.

What Spitzer discovered (apparently after a subordinate brought it to his attention) is that the AG could charge fraud under the Martin Act for the functional equivalent of a traffic ticket. Because most of the big banks and insurance companies are located in New York, he had complete jurisdiction over them, even more than federal watchdogs like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the US attorney for the Southern District.

Basically Manhattan is/can be a crony war zone. (Surprise.) Banks, politicians lusting for ever more, it’s New York. And if one can be a crony there, one can be a crony anywhere.