Legislature interviews Underwood, others as potential successor to attorney general

Preet Bharara

Preet Bharara

In a lawsuit filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court against acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood, Thomas claims: "As a result of the Attorney General resigning abruptly under a cloud of impropriety, there is no Attorney General".

"G$3 iven the timing of Eric Schneiderman's resignation and the current state law prohibiting candidates from seeking two offices simultaneously, I have determined that I can not run for Attorney General at this time", she said.

U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Long Island Democrat who was considering running for attorney general, announced Tuesday that she'll instead seek a third term in Congress.

Richard Thomas is charged with allegedly siphoning campaign and inaugural committee money, the New York Daily News reports.

But at least three of the other candidates think Underwood - who some lawmakers have already said they favor for the interim job - may be the best qualified to serve out Schneiderman's term.

"I don't see a drastic change; I would see my role as continuing to look at the cases proposed", Underwood said.

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One tumultuous week later, Underwood was the first applicant Tuesday to face questions from the bipartisan, bicameral committee of the Legislature, chaired by Democrat Assemblyman Joseph Lentol.

Almost every assemblymember and senator on the committee praised Underwood's credentials effusively; Democrat Senator Brad Hoylman called her a "real lawyer's lawyer".

But the legislature has the power to name an interim AG and on Tuesday was interviewing potential candidates - including Underwood - who would serve through the end of the year.

Underwood has said she will not run in November. "But I can assure you that's not who I am". "I know the work of the office already", she said.

She said some people joke that the National Association of Attorneys General is actually the "National Association of Aspiring Governors". Republicans have criticized Cuomo for chiming in on the attorney general selection process, saying the state's top legal agency must remain independent from the governor's office.

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