State Senator Eric Schneiderman praised his possible Republican rival, Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, this afternoon for his stance on the mosque controversy.
“I applaud my potential opponent in the race for Attorney General, Dan Donovan, for siding with his supporter Mayor Bloomberg and resisting the attempt by Rick Lazio to politicize the Park51 project in Lower Manhattan,” Schneiderman said in an emailed statement.
“No funds have even been raised at this point so there’s nothing to investigate at this time. As for any project by a nonprofit organization, if there is evidence of ties to terrorists, I will pursue an investigation vigorously. However, opponents of the project have presented no evidence or facts to support such a claim.”
It’s essentially the same position that Andrew Cuomo has taken in refusing to heed Lazio’s repeated calls for an investigation into the funding. (It also echoes an editorial in this morning’s New York Times.)
Schneiderman’s stance is somewhat less surprising than Donovan’s, given the senator’s liberal bent and the fact his party hasn’t made an issue of the proposed mosque and community center in the way that many Republicans have.
But it would seem to take the mosque issue off the table in what could be a fierce down-ballot race–if Schneiderman survives mid-September, of course.
“If the general election for Attorney General is between Mr. Donovan and myself, New Yorkers can be assured that on this issue they’ll have a new AG who respects religious freedom and follows Andrew Cuomo’s high standards of letting his investigations be guided by facts, rather than politics,” Schneiderman said.
UPDATE: Donovan spokesperson Virginia Lam emailed to add the proper context to Donovan’s position. “Dan personally would like to see the developers choose an alternate location for the center, one which would not be such a painful reminder to the thousands of families who lost loved ones on September 11th,” she wrote.
To be clear, that puts Donovan somewhere between Mayor Bloomberg–his friend and supporter who has dismissed the idea of relocating the center–and his potential running mate Lazio, who wants an investigation of the funding.