A Verizon lobbyist is trying to become the attorney general of New York in the upcoming November election.
If elected, Eve says she would recuse herself from Verizon matters and New York State’s appeal of the federal net neutrality repeal.
“As Vice President for Government Affairs for Verizon for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, Leecia oversees policy and ensures governmental compliance for a company that innovates and invests billions in New York State and puts nearly 20,000 New Yorkers to work every day,” Eve’s bio on her campaign site says. “She also serves as a Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.”
Recent polls put Eve in last place behind the other Democrats running for the office. Polls were led by New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, who fought Comcast’s attempt to buy Time Warner Cable in 2015 and applauded last year when New York City sued Verizon for allegedly failing to meet broadband construction obligations.
As a Verizon executive, Eve defended the company from the city’s allegations. Still, Eve has argued that her Verizon experience will help her prosecute “bad corporate actors”—but without being so harsh that businesses would stop coming to the state.
“Her Verizon experience, Eve contends, is ‘extremely helpful: I know how corporations work,’ leaving her ‘best prepared to go after bad corporate actors,’ but ‘not to radiate to business not to come to New York,'” news organization City Limits wrote Tuesday after interviewing Eve.
Eve made a similar statement last month to
“I’m proud of the work that I do, so I view that as an asset, not a negative,” Eve told the publication. “I’m the person with the experience who knows best how to go after bad corporate actors and hold them accountable.”
Past experience working for a telecom doesn’t always prevent government officials from taking aggressive anti-industry stances. Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler (a Democrat) became a thorn in the broadband industry’s side despite previously being the top lobbyist for both the cable and cell phone industries. Of course, current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai used to work for Verizon and has largely given the broadband industry everything it wants. But Pai is a Republican and Eve is a Democrat.
Eve would recuse herself from Verizon matters
Eve would not be involved in investigating Verizon if she won the election. “Under ethics rules, Eve confirms, she’d recuse herself from cases involving Verizon or other telecom issues, leaving policy decisions to senior staff,” City Limits reported.
Eve also confirmed that she would recuse herself from the New York attorney general office’s ongoing lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission. Along with more than 20 other states, New York has asked a federal court to reverse the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules, a repeal that was supported by Verizon.
“The litigation would continue were she elected, Eve affirmed, though because of her promise to recuse herself from all matters Verizon, she’d play no role in it,” City Limits wrote. “Eve says she’s always supported net neutrality, and that Verizon has taken issue with how it was being implemented.”
Eve has been a Verizon executive since 2013, but she’s on leave from the company while she runs for office. She previously worked in government as counsel to then-Senators Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton and as deputy secretary for economic development for New York under Governor Andrew Cuomo.
NY officials clash with Verizon
It isn’t unusual for the attorney general and other New York government officials to clash with Verizon. For example, the New York State Public Service Commission began reviewing Verizon service quality in March 2016, seven months after then-Attorney General Schneiderman asked for an investigation into “whether Verizon is adequately upgrading or repairing its copper wire infrastructure.” That investigation led to a settlement in which Verizon agreed to fix failing copper networks and boost fiber deployment.
Separately, the New York City government has been trying to force Verizon to finish fiber builds that were supposed to have been completed by 2014. Eve, like other Verizon executives, has argued that Verizon met its obligations. Verizon claims that it fulfilled a requirement to “pass all households” with fiber, even though it hadn’t actually installed fiber in front of every building.
Telecom analyst and frequent Verizon critic Bruce Kushnick argued that Eve’s work at Verizon makes her unfit to be attorney general. Among other things, Kushnick pointed to Eve’s involvement in Verizon obtaining a settlement from New Jersey regulators that eliminated an obligation to provide broadband service to the whole state.
In the Democratic primary, Eve’s opponents are James, US Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), and law professor Zephyr Teachout.
James was in first place with 25 percent of the vote in a Siena College Research Institute poll conducted in late July. The poll had Maloney in second place at 16 percent, Teachout in third at 13 percent, and Eve in fourth at four percent. Forty-two percent were undecided.
A Quinnipiac University poll found almost identical results.