It’s alone two weeks abroad from the New York apostle accepted election, arguably the best able AG position in the country at this moment, and the address of the Republican applicant is eerily quiet. When I accustomed at its Midtown column in New York, there was no receptionist, no campanology phones, no loud choir (actually, no voices)—none of the hub-hub that you’d apprehend from attack central. In fact, I had to blow into a brace of near-empty apartment to advertise my arrangement with Keith Wofford, the GOP candidate.
Until he absitively to run for the AG post, Wofford was co-head of Ropes & Gray’s 300-plus-lawyer New York office. A defalcation and creditors’ rights lawyer, Wofford is now on leave from the firm.
By best accounts, Wofford is accepted to lose to Letitia James, his Democratic opponent, the New York City accessible apostle and protégé of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (In an Oct. 1 Siena College poll, James leads Wofford, 50 percent to 36 percent.) For starters, Wofford has little name recognition—anywhere. Even in the dainty circles of Big Law, area he’s one of the few atramentous partners, he seems to accept kept a low profile.
Plus, it’s absurd to admonition him with boyhood voters that he’s a atramentous Trump supporter. (According to the New York Times, Wofford is “the alone statewide Republican applicant who would accept to voting for President Trump,” abacus that he’s additionally donated to Democrats.)
So who is Wofford? Why is he active for apostle accepted of New York? And what does he anticipate of the issues of the day—like Trump’s tax analysis and acknowledging action. Below is an edited adaptation of our conversation:
You’re the co-head of a aloft appointment of a aloft firm. You’re authoritative buckets of money [Wofford appear earning amid $4.35 actor and $4.45 actor in 2017 on his acknowledgment form]. Why do you charge to run for AG? Are you apathetic with practice? No, not bored! I adulation practicing law and the firm. I’m active because it’s important for addition to appear from the outside. That’s the alone way to accord with the bribery in Albany and locally. We’ve apparent three apostle generals in a row who talked about bribery and did nothing. There was [Eliot] Spitzer, who accommodated in disgrace, [Andrew] Cuomo, who disbanded the agency attractive into corruption, and [Eric] Schneiderman, who additionally accommodated in disgrace. There’s a crisis of confidence, and we charge addition who’s not allotment of the political machine.
I get that we charge an alien to activity corruption. But aren’t Democrats and Republicans both allotment of the ability of bribery in New York? I’m activity afterwards everyone. I’m an absolute person. This is not a accessory crusade.
But why did you accept to adjust with the GOP? I mean, it charge be abandoned actuality a atramentous Republican in New York. I don’t attending at this from a numbers or acceptance perspective. I attending at it from the angle of ideas. One of the bigger problems is our accessible academy system. The Democrats accept bootless students, abnormally acceptance of color. If the Democrats had their way, there’d be no allotment schools, and we charge to accord parents that choice.
So you became a Republican because of education, and you anticipate that Republicans are accomplishing a bigger job at education. OK. Whatever. But let’s get aback to the apostle accepted job. The accepted acting AG Barbara Underwood is attractive into Trump’s ancestors foundation and taxes. Are those things that you’d abide beneath your watch? That’s a acceptable question. Look, no one is aloft the law. And accustomed the consequence of what’s appear out about the tax analysis by the New York Times, it claim scrutiny. But you don’t access up or bottomward the accuse based on whether you accede or disagree with someone. You clay the believability of the appointment of the AG if you do that.
So you haven’t accustomed any affectionate of agreement to Donald Trump about the investigations? No pledges of loyalty.
Let’s allocution about your career. You came from a actual bashful background, growing up in Buffalo, area your ancestor was a branch worker. You again went Harvard at age 17, again Harvard Law School. How did you exhausted the odds? I didn’t accept to anyone who said I couldn’t do it. My parents never set bogus banned on us. I additionally got admonition from leaders in Buffalo, the African-American association and the business association there. There were a brace of break actuality and there that fabricated a difference.
You assume to accept had a bland career. You’ve formed at the best aristocratic firms—first, Wachtell Lipton and now Ropes & Gray. Did you acquaintance racism forth the way? Of course. It’s out there, but the catechism is how you accord with it. You accept to be level-headed and not let it abstract you from your goals. Sometimes you don’t apperceive why addition says article or does article that seems offensive. Maybe it was racism, maybe not. You can’t let it actualize a brainy block.
Why aren’t there added minorities who are disinterestedness ally in Big Law? It’s a activity issue—not abundant bodies advancing through the system. Then, firms are not acceptable at amalgam bodies into the firm’s amusing network. There are lots of factors as to who gets the best assignments.
You’re a conservative, so what do you anticipate of the accepted activity adjoin Harvard that’s arduous chase as a agency in admission? I ambition bodies would not attending to activity as a band-aid in these matters. I haven’t looked at the affirmation about the case. But I accept a lot of acknowledgment appear Harvard because they did so abundant for me. I absolutely can’t criticize Harvard.
Do you anticipate you’ve benefited from acknowledging activity in your life? Probably.
Any words of admonition for adolescent bodies of blush who’d like to chase your path? Work adamantine and don’t be abashed to be bad at something. And don’t let bodies put limitations on you.
And what happens if the AG affair doesn’t assignment out? I’ll be actual blessed to go aback to practicing law.
Contact Vivia Chen at [email protected] On Twitter: @lawcareerist.
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