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GOP candidate for NY attorney general says office isn't political

Ellen Abbott
John Cahill, who is running for state attorney general as a Republican.

The Republican candidate for state attorney general says the man who holds the office now, and those who served before him, have treated it has a political stepping stone.

A.G. doesn't stand for "aspiring governor," John Cahill said.

Cahill was an aide and environmental conservation commissioner to former Gov. George Pataki, a Republican who ran the state from 1995 to 2006.

Cahill is now challenging Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for the role of New York's top lawyer.

The 55-year-old is a proponent of equal education opportunities and deep-well natural gas extraction, known commonly as fracking. He and Pataki have since started an environmental an energy consulting firm.

Cahill spoke with WRVO Tuesday during a stop in Syracuse. Here are some of the topics discussed:

Business development

The attorney general can make sure there’s level playing field for businesses, Cahill says, which he says means ensuring equal enforcement of laws.

"Sound businesses want a level playing field," he said. "They want the bad guys out as well."

He went on: "Business leaders around the state are very much concerned that the attorney general’s office has not been the AG, it’s been the aspiring governor’s office. And that’s a real concern I hear from business leaders quite often."


Cahill says deep-well drilling for natural gas can be done safely in New York. He says Schneiderman was too quick to try to file lawsuits against the drilling industry.

"He sent a message that we’re going to fight tooth and nail to keep that industry out of New York," he said. "I believe we can have very tough, but fair regulatory structure that will allow smart development outside New York state watersheds; outside our state parks."

Cahill says that would include making drilling companies disclose the chemicals they use to frack the shale and extract natural gas. He says fracking could be an economic asset for upstate New York.

Working with Democrats

If elected as attorney general, Cahill says he would be able to work with a governor from a different party, if Gov. Andrew Cuomo is re-elected.

Right now, the attorney general’s office and governor’s office are occupied by Democrats. But Cahill says the attorney general’s office is about representing New Yorkers.

"Because there has to be a working, professional relationship in representing the state’s interests, particularly in litigation," Cahill said. "But that doesn’t mean the attorney general can’t find issues that are specific to his own issues, whether it’s education, whether it’s economic development."

He says the state’s top lawyer has a responsibility, regardless of politics.