March 16, 2010
Dinallo stumps in Cortland for AG run
Local Dems say they will decide in a month whether to endorse him for attorney general
Eric Dinallo wants to put about 40 assistant attorneys general in rural offices around New York state if he is elected state attorney general next fall.
The former superintendent of the New York State Insurance Department and top assistant to former Attorney General Elliot Spitzer came to Cortland Monday to make his case for election as the state’s top prosecutor.
Dinallo, 46, met eight members of the Cortland County Democratic Executive Committee at the Community Restaurant.
Dinallo said he wants to set himself apart with his plan to place assistants in rural counties. Operating from a storefront office, the state attorneys would help local citizens and government officials, including the district attorney, with any concerns.
He said the plan would take about two years to phase in, as he reapportions how the division’s 700 attorneys are used.
Dinallo said a majority of those attorneys are now assigned to defending the state against lawsuits, and he would try to educate state agencies more about how to avoid such lawsuits, which would allow him to change the staffing structure.
Dinallo said he is one of five announced or potential candidates for the Democratic nomination if Attorney General Andrew Cuomo runs for governor. Two others are prosecutors and two are state legislators. He said he expects whoever wins the nomination will face a tough battle against a Republican nominee, who most likely would have a prosecutor’s background.
“I am the best candidate for the general election,” he told the executive committee members.
Committee Chair Dan Tagliente and Vice Chair Marilyn Brown both personally endorsed Dinallo afterward. The entire committee’s endorsement will be decided in about a month, Tagliente said, after he polls its roughly 70 members.
The state Democratic caucus is April 30.
District Attorney Mark Suben, who also attended the meeting told Dinallo, the rural assistance program would help district attorneys with cases that carry political complications. He did not elaborate. Tagliente said a local attorney general representative could help with questions of state Election Law.
Dinallo said counties have wondered in the past year how much power they have to manage natural gas drilling and the building of wind turbines as energy sources.
Dinallo began his career as a New York City prosecutor, then gained fame while managing Spitzer’s investor protection bureau, where he forced Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, among others, to disclose in their analyst reports when they were seeking business from companies whose stocks were being rated.
He said he transformed the state insurance division from “a quiet, moribund office” into a national leader in insurance reform, pushing for changes in health insurance rates and health insurance coverage.
Dinallo said he forced MetLife to give back $2 million to Albany-area farmers who had been overcharged. Dinallo left that office last summer to run for attorney general. He is a visiting professor of finance ethics at New York University.
“I feel like through hard work and creative solutions, I have transformed state agencies,” he said. “I could go into the Attorney General’s Office and run it, although it is being competently run now.”
He said “attorney general” means an attorney of general jurisdiction, covering a range of legal fields besides just pursuing Wall Street reform.
Sandy Price, the Cortland County Legislature’s minority leader, told Dinallo she liked his experience and vision.
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