By Arthur Z. Schwartz
On April 10, 2017, I texted a politician whose thoughts about running for Governor had been cut short by Cynthia Nixon’s candidacy, and said, “Don’t go home. #MeToo is going to get Eric Schneiderman soon.” On May 7 my premonition came true.
Eric and I had been friends. We were both elected as District Leaders in the mid-1990s, and attended many meetings together and shared many beers. In 2001, and again in 2004, we did litigation together, once even rolling back a subway fare increase. But I learned, as we got to know each other, that Eric had a problem. A woman had complained to me about being seriously groped by him in an elevator shortly after he was elected to the State Senate. Over the years I would repeat that story, quietly, to others in politics, and they would tell me other ones, including stories about him getting rough with female partners. But no one went public.
In 2010 Eric asked me if we could have coffee. He told me that he was thinking of running for Attorney General. I looked him in the eye and said: “Are you sure you have no skeletons in your closet?” He looked back and said “sure.” I bit my tongue.
So Eric went on to become an immensely popular Attorney General, but one who never took on corruption in the Executive Office. One in-the-know person told me that Cuomo had a dossier on Eric. Eric’s role in fighting Trump’s excesses ballooned his importance, and ballooned his need to dominate, if the allegations are true. And in one evening, it all came to an end.
The lesson. We progressives did not do our movement a favor, or Eric a favor, by not saying anything. There is no such thing as tolerable abuse of women—or of anyone, for that matter. We on the left have to call out people who agree with us as quickly as we would call out Donald Trump.
I apologize to the women who were abused by Eric Schneiderman. I was part of a conspiracy of silence that allowed you to be hurt. I will never do that again.
Arthur Z. Schwartz is the Male Democratic District Leader for Greenwich Village.