Nancy Sliwa is the Reform Party candidate for attorney general of New York. Sliwa is an attorney with a background in real estate and tax law. She currently serves as the director of the Animal Protection Division of the Guardian Angels and holds a law degree from Brooklyn Law School.
1. Currently, the Attorney General’s office is legally fighting several of President Donald Trump’s executive orders. As attorney general, how would you address these ongoing lawsuits?
“The reality is that since Trump has come into office, attorney general lawsuits toward the federal government are very much political grandstanding. The fact that many New Yorkers are registered Democrats, coupled with the anti-Trump sentiment throughout the state, has created a perceived political opportunity for many to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ and curry public favor. While I do believe certain lawsuits are correct in their position, the reality of what a state attorney general can legally do in the federal realm is very limited, thus, most of these suits have no practical value and wind up wasting taxpayer dollars.”
2. How has your experience prepared you for the responsibilities of the attorney general?
“I have been an attorney for more than 10 years in New York and have witnessed the assembly-line justice people face in the courts. I see the inefficiencies in the punishment of criminals where there is little thought to rehabilitation of a person who will be mingling with society before long. I have also spent many years volunteering personally [and] know the importance of empowering people. Government is not supposed to take care of all; to think otherwise makes people helpless and vulnerable. Having grown up in a single-parent household, I have spent a lifetime overcoming hurdles that, while difficult at times, [have] made me a stronger person. I believe all those experiences make me uniquely in line with most people in a way that most politicians are not.”
3. Fighting corruption at the state level is a big concern for citizens across New York during this election cycle. How would you contribute to those efforts as attorney general?
“I would create integrity tests for all public officials. Currently, elected officials ride out their term irrespective of impropriety, and clear instances of abuse of power go unaddressed too often. With no independent commission to investigate such instances, this inefficiency falls squarely on the public, where it least belongs. The role of state attorney general is to be legal counsel for the state and for the people. Somehow, the ‘for the people’ concept has been lost. I would focus on state investigations first and foremost. The fact that the Moreland Commission was dismissed is ridiculous. A state that can’t address its internal corruption is lost. It’s disgraceful that public servants use taxpayer dollars to further future political races while turning a blind eye to local politicians’ offenses because they know playing ball and keeping quiet helps serve their next political run. This is why an independent counsel is necessary.”
4. Why should students and young people across New York vote for you?
“I am interested in gaining the vote of students because I appreciate an unjaded perspective. Until last year I had never affiliated myself with a party because I believed most politicians were crooks, and that those who weren’t turned a blind eye to corruption around them. I was a philosophy major and recall vividly writings about government leadership, in particular, ‘The Republic.’ The notion that a society should want leaders not persuaded by material goods but ‘philosopher kings’ who live as minimalists [and] put public welfare above all else has always stuck with me. Today, politics seems filled with people who want accolades and are so disconnected with the normal struggles of most. That’s one of the reasons why I never pursued politics; who wants to jump into a swamp of corruption? But I’ve come to realize that is exactly why good people need to roll up their sleeves and get involved.”