Eric Schneiderman's Legalized Shakedowns

Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese.  These are the notorious names of New York's very own Mafia syndicates, etched into the mind of every true crime enthusiast.

As the years went by, and one Giuliani RICO charge after another fell upon the John Gottis of the world, the Five Families and their influence have waned even while their legacy lives on in late-night Soprano reruns.

Strangely enough, until very recently, few New Yorkers, save for Donald Trump in a forewarning tweet, could tell you the name of the far more powerful criminal family that terrorized our streets and wallets.

What was the name of this sixth crime family, you may be wondering?  Well, it was the crafty Schneiderman Outfit operating out of Pine Street.

What was the Schneiderman Outfit?  It was a $5-billion operation, whose extortion and racketeering sent many honest New Yorkers and their businesses into hiding down in Florida or North Carolina.  Unlike the Gambino victims of old, the victims of the Schneiderman gang cannot be saved through a federal victim protection program based in Utah.  They will be followed no matter where they flee (though you may want to consider a lovely central Asian goat farm in extradition-free Uzbekistan).  In fact, the victims of this crime family have little to no legal recourse whatsoever.  Their only option is to pay the kickback.

How can this be, you may ask?  Where is the justice system?  Where is due process?  Well, all those pesky tidbits of our Bill of Rights went straight out the door when our wily state legislators in Albany passed the extraordinary and far-reaching "Martin Act."

If you haven't picked up on this by now, the Pine Street Schneiderman Boys are a tongue-in-cheek reference to the office of the recently disgraced former New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman.

The accused sexual abuser, alcoholic, and hypocrite Schneiderman, the sort of man Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and many other prominent Democrats once heralded as "a fighter on behalf of women," originally became notorious not for running an actual crime family, but something very close to that: the use of targeted and politically motivated criminal investigations against numerous publicly traded New York businesses and their employees.  The so-called Martin Act allowed "lightweight" Schneiderman to launch such investigations without ever having to prove intent, knowledge of wrongdoing, or even evidence of fraud.  He simply, with a Thanos-like snap of his fingers, brought the full weight of the New York "injustice" system upon any business he or his office deemed to be "bad guys" (oh, the irony).

No other piece of legislation in the 50 states, the federal government, or even in many modern Western democracies comes anywhere close to the level of power and discretion that New York's Martin Act granted to Eric Schneiderman.

The Martin Act, and its continued abuse by the office of the attorney general (when its holder wasn't busy choking and beating his girlfriends), has directly led to the loss of an innumerable number of New York jobs and has consequently added an overbearing aura of unpredictability and volatility to the New York state economy.  It is something that has not only driven away New York's own businesses, but also scared off many outside parties from investing in our state.

To put this in perspective, the attorney general's office has collected an inordinate amount of funds, which, if it were a private corporation, would make it the size of Blackstone or Yahoo, and it would boast a number of attorneys equal to that of Sullivan & Cromwell.

Thus, if you are a smaller or mid-sized business that can't afford to beef up its legal compliance department (if you even have one) to protect yourself, a challenge by the Martin Act will leave you with no choice but to settle – the basis for the entire racket.  Everyone, big or small, is ultimately forced into a settlement.

This is something that affects all New Yorkers.  The loss of job-creating companies and industries is hurting all our bottom lines.  We will never be able to attract the sort of high-paying jobs we all seek if we allow our state to become the playground of politically motivated legal chicanery.

New Yorkers should use Eric Schneiderman's recent fall from grace as an opportunity to rein in the office of the attorney general, an office that has been abused by many individuals of ill repute over the years, from Spitzer to Schneiderman.  Repealing the Martin Act once and for all will finally bring back some sanity to the New York state justice system, protect our businesses, and prevent future abuse from sickos and real deplorables like Schneiderman.

Schneiderman might be gone, but like the Mafia families of old, the organization remains.

Gavin Wax is the former deputy political director for the Nicole Malliotakis Mayoral Campaign and the New York State director for the 2016 Ted Cruz presidential campaign.  He is also small business-owner.  His work has appeared in The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Washington Examiner, The Hill, Townhall, The American Thinker, and Newsmax.  You can follow him on Twitter at @GavinWax.