State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would have you believe that he fights the good, progressive fight for regular Joes and Janes in their eternal struggle against the dark forces of business.
But if Joe or Jane decides to join a burgeoning new industry by renting rooms through the listing service Airbnb, well, suddenly Mr. Schneiderman finds himself on the side of a big business, in this case, the city’s hotel industry.
With his re-election campaign in full swing, Mr. Schneiderman recently made headlines with a report claiming that nearly 3 out of every 4 Airbnb rentals violate one city law or another. The attorney general has been crusading against Airbnb for months, so his well-timed press release comes as little surprise. The question remains: why does Mr. Schneiderman, a man who claims to be the people’s advocate, have it in for this grass-roots entrepreneurial project?
It’s telling to note that Airbnb took hold in San Francisco, where political debate takes place between the left and the extreme left. But even in that leftier-than-thou metropolis, Airbnb has found support among politicians who have a healthy respect for disrupters.
And, to be sure, Airbnb is a disruptive force, just like Uber, the ride-sharing taxi service that—wouldn’t you know—also originated in San Francisco. New York liberals like to think of themselves as disrupters, but their tolerance for disruption apparently goes only so far. If you challenge the accepted ways of booking a room or hailing a cab, well, you can expect nothing but hostility from New York’s current power establishment.
Having already endorsed Mr. Schneiderman’s Republican opponent, John Cahill, our opinion of the attorney general’s judgment is a matter of record. And the Observer is hardly alone—Newsday and Crain‘s have also endorsed Mr. Cahill. And just yesterday, the Syracuse Post-Standard joined the parade, writing a devastating indictment that’s worth quoting:
“Four years ago, this editorial board endorsed Democrat Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General largely based on the case he made for restoring public integrity in Albany. Four years later, his Republican opponent, John Cahill, makes the stronger case for cleaning up corruption, thanks to Schneiderman’s bystander role in the collapse of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption.”
So as the campaign enters its final weeks, the Observer is hardly alone in insisting that New York can—and should—do better. And now, The New York Post’s Fred Dicker reported that Democratic Party activist Randy Credico insists that he saw Mr. Schneiderman using cocaine in 2005, when he was a state senator.
The attorney general is the state’s top law-enforcement official, and Mr. Schneiderman has been airing commercials touting his tough-on-crime credentials. Reports that he snorted coke while serving in the state Senate—from a named source in his own party—deserve a full airing in the campaign’s final days.
Then again, so do Mr. Schneiderman’s reactionary attitudes toward innovation and business creativity. By imposing obstacles on exciting businesses like Airbnb and Uber, he shows himself to be a defender of the tired status quo.