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NY Attorney General making waves

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Rochester: NY Attorney General making waves
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Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is making his mark nationally, securing millions of dollars in settlements from financial institutions. Now his office may be investigating a firm founded by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Our Nick Reisman has more on how the GOP is charging him with playing politics.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Nearly two years ago, an outspoken liberal State Senator took over a job that has propelled his immediate predecessors to the governor's office. He arrives in Charlotte on Wednesday a hero to liberal Democrats, racking up a series of high-profile victories, even as Governor Andrew Cuomo's shadow looms large.

“He's following two very tough acts in terms of men who also made a mark not only in our state, but nationally. And Eric is responding to the times, issues that people care about today and using that very important leverage of the New York Attorney General's office, I think, in a very effective way,” New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.

Schneiderman, in the last twenty months, has sought to stay in the headlines, pushing for a tougher 50 state settlement with mortgage holding banks, secured millions of dollars in settlements from financial institutions that sought to manipulate the market and formed a taxpayer protection unit with Tom DINapoli, the State Comptroller.

“Eric has been a great attorney general. You got to remember he's only been there for two years now and it's almost as if he's been born into the job,” New York State Democratic Party Co-Chairman Keith Wright said.

But Schneiderman faces a challenge with Cuomo, the extremely popular governor and his immediate predecessor. Cuomo has appointed his own financial watchdog, Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawsky. And then there's accusations that his office was involved in helping approve a settlement for an alleged sexual harassment victim of Assemblyman Vito Lopez. The Attorney General's office has said their role was limited and informal.

Cuomo said, “That is now subject of an investigation and I'd rather let the investigation conclude than give you my opinion during the investigation.”

And now Schneiderman's office is reportedly pursuing an investigation of private-equity firms, which includes Bain Capital, the firm founded by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, leading the GOP to charge he's playing politics.

“You can't control the timing. If there's an issue that's out there and something needs to be looked at you can't look at a political calendar and sometimes that opens you up to criticism, but I have full confidence that Attorney General Schneiderman is doing this on the merits,” DiNapoli said.

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