Message from Adam on Juneteenth 2020

Message from Adam on Juneteenth 2020

Today is Juneteenth. A day that commemorates when the news of emancipation finally reached far-flung Texas and ended the scourge of American slavery.

Yet, we know that the promises of emancipation and the entire constitution remain unmet for too many of us even today. And I am so very proud of how our district has risen in constructive, righteous anger in our exercise, guaranteed by the First Amendment, of our right “peaceably to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

There is nothing more American than that, and we’ve seen it from across the entire district, from White Plains to Peekskill to Nyack.

I’m ready to continue this important work and I hope you are with me. I recently released my policy plan for meaningful reform.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you can find it here:

Message from Adam on the 4th Anniversary of Pulse Nightclub Shooting

Message from Adam on the 4th Anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting

Four years ago, a gunman opened fire on LGBTQ+ community members — mostly Latinx, but from every background representing Orlando’s strength of diversity — celebrating Pride Month at Pulse Nightclub. 49 people never made it home that evening. 

This cowardly and unspeakable act of violence still weighs heavily on many of us today. But, it also serves as a reminder of how hard we must continue to fight for meaningful gun legislation and against domestic terror. 

If elected to Congress, I will take on the NRA and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; implement universal background checks; enact red flag laws; regulate “ghost guns”; hold manufacturers responsible for their contribution to gun violence; and, use Article I Section 4 of our Constitution so that Congress can redraw extremist, gerrymandered districts and create the kind of sensibility we need on common sense gun reform. 

Finally, I’ll see that the federal government enforces to the fullest extent of the law the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act against anyone who commits a hate crime against another person for their sexual identity or orientation. 

Today and everyday, let us make our country safer and freer for all people, no matter who they are and who they love. 

Opinion: Response to Journal News Column

Adam Schleifer: Response to Journal News Column

On June 4th, my opponents in this congressional race attacked us with a broadside against the “pharmaceutical” industry and demanded that our campaign immediately sign onto a pledge they drafted. The record of communications made clear they had collectively spent days concocting this coordinated attack and then asked us to sign onto a pledge with exactly one hour to respond. Before we could even examine the contents of their “pledge,” the Journal News published a story that we “won’t sign” a pledge while giving none of that background.

My father, Dr. Len Schleifer, co-founded Regeneron, a Westchester-based biotechnology company whose brilliant and hardworking scientists struggled for twenty-five years to develop treatments and life-saving cures to disease, before it ever saw any success as a company. After developing a cure for a form of blindness in 2012, they have become one of Westchester’s greatest success stories, turning basic science into lifesaving therapeutics and creating thousands of high-tech jobs for residents of Westchester and Rockland Counties. And while I am not a scientist nor an employee of Regeneron, I sure am proud of all the lives the amazing people at Regeneron have saved and the great work they have done. For those who do not know, they have already developed cures and treatments for Ebola, heart disease, cancer, asthma, and blindness, among other diseases. And right now, their great work and employees are working day in and out to find a vaccine and treatment to fight COVID-19. Indeed, the company is a leading candidate in the race for a cure for our current pandemic, and I hope even my opponents in this campaign are rooting for their success in that endeavor. I know millions of Americans are.

My opponents’ “pledge” was offered not on the merits of ensuring that any industry doesn’t have undue influence over a member of Congress, but as a cynical political ploy to attack our campaign as it gains momentum. If my opponents approached the question of how to ensure industry does not have influence over policymaking from a place of integrity, they would have announced their own divestment for financial interests they have in companies that build weapons of war and profit off of bombs; they would have sworn off the thousands of dollars they receive from corporate PACs and from family members representing coal and fracking companies and, ironically, “big pharma”; and they would have sworn off funding received from predatory payday lenders. None of this have they done.

As I have said multiple times at forums throughout this race, including the Westchester Young Democrats, if elected to Congress, I would put in place whatever measures necessary and appropriate, including a blind trust for holdings, to further demonstrate the fierce independence I have brought to every job I have ever had.

While my opponents play politics and talk the typical talk, I want to remind them that I am the only one in this race who’s actually walked the walk. As a former federal prosecutor and consumer protection regulator, I am the only person in this race to have protected our healthcare system by taking on abuse in the medical-malpractice insurance industry and by prosecuting Medicare fraud. And I am deeply committed to protecting Americans from price-gouging and other healthcare abuses. That is why I’ve pushed so vocally from the beginning for policies that protect and expand Obamacare to ensure that Americans who have insurance they like can keep it, and those who don’t have insurance have access to a public option; that out-of-pocket expenditures for prescription drugs are capped; that insurance companies are required to cover preventative care, fertility services, and other important treatments; and, that drug prices are controlled and realigned with preventative outcomes.

Let’s stop the games and focus on what the scientists and all the other hardworking folks in this district know really counts: getting real things done for real people.

Adam P. Schleifer is a former New York State banking, insurance, and consumer protection regulator and federal prosecutor; he is a candidate for Congress in New York’s 17th Congressional District.

Message from Adam On Recent Journal News Story

Message from Adam on Recent Journal News Story

Voters deserve better than political stunts. And that’s exactly what last week’s “pledge” to divest in pharmaceutical industry was.

In reality, this pledge didn’t go far enough as candidates shouldn’t cherry-pick which industries try to influence members of Congress. This pledge did not take into consideration the considerable donations from defense contractors, predatory pay-day lenders and more that our opponents in the race declined to mention.

Adam has built his career fighting for people protecting consumers and his commitment to fighting for others has never faltered.

Message from Adam on 76th Anniversary of D-Day

Message from Adam on 76th Anniversary of D-Day

Seventy-six years ago today, 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. Four-thousand of those heroes lost their lives in that successful struggle to rescue Europe and the world from fascistic, murderous hatred.

The victory whose anniversary we fittingly pay tribute to today paved the way for one of my grandfathers to enter continental Europe and fight the Nazis as a United States Army Sergeant and codebreaker; it also helped saved the life of two other of my grandparents, both of whom were enslaved at that time in Nazi concentration camps, enduring unspeakable horrors and praying for liberation by the Allied Troops.

We should all feel immense gratitude for the sacrifices and struggles of the Greatest Generation. More important, we should take inspiration from the heroism they exhibited through those hardships, and redouble our efforts to make the promises of safety, prosperity, freedom, and justice a reality for every single American.

Opinion: LGBTQ+ New Yorkers Deserve More than Just Acceptance in Congress, They Deserve Solidarity

Opinion: LGBTQ+ New Yorkers Deserve More than Just Acceptance in Congress, They Deserve Solidarity

As published in Columbia Public Policy Review on June 1st, 2020

June marks the five-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark case which pronounced that our constitution’s fundamental principles of equal protection and due process of law guarantee marriage equality (and all the important rights and opportunities that flow therefrom) to all persons, including those in our LGBTQ+ community. As we mark that historic milestone, we should note, in this season of presidential politics, that it has also been a mere eight years since the Democratic Party first included marriage equality in its national platform. So, let us not forget, nor take for granted, how far the arc has bent, and how far it still needs to bend, toward complete justice and equality for the LGBTQ+ community.

Twenty years ago, not a single state permitted same-sex marriage. The Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell were the law of the land. When I was growing up, legal discrimination kept thousands in the shadows, forcing them to live with the fear that being open about their identity and the identities of their loved ones would invite not only social ostracization, but legal liability, economic devastation, and physical harm.

In this time of pandemic, it should also be emphasized that, when I was a young boy in New York City in the 1980s, a viral plague struck not only my city, but also my family. Years passed, it seemed, without sufficient mobilization and attention, until a young boy from Indiana and a global basketball icon in Los Angeles fell ill—America just couldn’t empathize with the scope of the HIV public-health disaster until the virus had a face that wasn’t part of the LGBTQ+ community.

As the grandson of Holocaust survivors and brother of a young man with special needs, I am especially attuned to the corrosive winds of discrimination and bigotry. But I am also heartened by how we all rally together to protest injustice and hate, as we saw in the recent Women’s Marches and in the counter-protests in Charlottesville.

Two recent events in Rockland County, NY have further emphasized that hopefulness to me, even though both followed on the heels of a violent criminal attack. First, in December, we saw a despicable act of antisemitic violence against Hannukah worshippers in Monsey, New York. Soon thereafter, however, the United States Department of Justice, which I had previously proudly served as a federal prosecutor, brought criminal charges against the perpetrator of that heinous crime. And what was the law under which those charges were brought? The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (HCPA).

In other words, a federal law passed in part to honor the tragic victim of a homophobic hate crime was being enforced to protect and vindicate the rights of victims of an antisemetic hate crime. What an apt application of Martin Luther King Jr.’s teaching that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Second, and just a few months later, a woman was senselessly and fatally stabbed in Spring Valley, New York during her shift at the desk of the Finkelstein Memorial Library. When I visited the makeshift memorial erected in her honor, I saw members of the African American, Haitian, and Hassidic communities of Spring Valley congregating in mourning, celebrating her life, and condemning that crime in solidarity. We are finally realizing that we are all part of the same broad fabric.

That’s why my support of the LGBTQ+ community is about more than just acceptance. It is about solidarity. That was the vision that I carried as a federal prosecutor and Assistant United States Attorney, where I prosecuted, among other crimes, crimes of sexual violence, predation, and blackmail. And that is the vision I will have as the congressperson for New York’s 17th Congressional District.

First, I will work to codify LGBTQ+ equality into law by passing the Equality Act, which will ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in sectors like employment, housing, credit. Today, half of LGBTQ+ people live in a state where it is legally permissible for an employer to fire, pass over for a promotion, or harass them without legal repercussions. In housing, one study found same-sex couples experienced discrimination in 27 percent of housing rental, sales, and financing tests. The Equality Act will not rid discrimination from our communities forever, but it will outlaw legal discrimination, and that is a helpful and necessary, though insufficient, start.

Second, I’ll foster a greater sense of inclusion and belonging among the LGBTQ+ community through federally-funded research and services that support their well-being. We will ensure our health-insurance system includes a strong and competitive public option, which provides essential health services while also pushing for all healthcare insurance plans to cover fertility services, which are especially vital for same-sex couples seeking to have biological children.

I’ll also vote for increased funding to curb bullying of LGBTQ+ students and support runaway and homeless LGBTQ+ youth, who are 120 percent more likely to experience homelessness than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. And, I’ll devote more research funding to the National Institute of Health to study HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment options, including current options like Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), while ensuring that the pricing and payment mechanics for these vital treatments are accessible to all.

Finally, I’ll fight to rectify injustices that still persist. We will outlaw the gay panic defense, an insidious legal tactic that attempts to explain and excuse a defendant’s violent actions on the basis that they were provoked by an alleged and unwanted same-sex sexual advance. I will call on the President to lift the ban on transgender and transsexual individuals from serving in the military. And, I will ensure enforcement of existing hate-crime legislation, like the HCPA.

The trajectory of the movement to achieve full LGBTQ+ equality, inclusion, and justice is headed in the right direction, but we as a nation can do much more. That is why I am proud to be endorsed by Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a trailblazer, progressive changemaker, and tireless advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. And that is why I believe that twenty years from today we will be able to look back together with satisfaction on all that we will have accomplished together between now and then, with our children hardly able to believe we once lived in a time where the great American promise of equality and inclusion didn’t extend to each and every one of us.

Adam’s Comments To NAACP’s Peekskill Chapter Protest & Dialogue

Adam's Comments To NAACP’s Peekskill Chapter Protest & Dialogue

250 years after the unrealized promise of the Declaration of Independence;

150 years after the end of slavery, “its badges,” and the amendments we passed in a failed attempt to move past our nation’s original sin;

50 years after MLK awoke our consciousness and moral imagination by helping all Americans see the “sweltering heat” of racial injustice:

We see today as clearly as ever that we have so much further to go to realize the unmet vision of our constitution.

Thank you to Peekskill’s NAACP Chapter for convening a thoughtful and uplifting protest and constructive dialog today. I was honored to participate.

Full Transcript of Comments:

It’s been clear for too long. We’ve been hearing, Oh, you know, it was just a a mistake. Oh, it was a panic. Oh, somebody was running one way and somebody made the wrong split second decision. I think we saw with George Floyd, I think we saw with Ahmaud Arbary. I think we saw with Mr. Cooper who narrowly escaped the same thing in central park last week, that these are not mistakes, that we have a culture.
We’ve talked, as Martin said, it’s been how many years? 150 years since the end of slavery, and we used to talk, I learned in law school about the badges of slavery and the 13th amendment and the 14th Amendment and the constitutional changes that we made in the law that never reached the people that we never got justice, that the union troops left the South, and another hundred years went by until 1970 for black folks to be able to vote and  exercise their rights in half of this country.
And so today here we are and we need to say, and we see here, we all unite and we understand that injustice anywhere injustice to a black man in Minnesota is a threat to justice everywhere. It’s a threat to a white person in Peekskill. It’s a threat to everyone everywhere. Here we are. We’re standing and we’re saying together that we’re not going to tolerate that and we’re going to call out what it is.
When we see a man looking like he could have been on his iPhone or sipping a cup of coffee, extinguish the light of another person underneath his knee, not even bat an eyelash. Three of his colleagues sworn to uphold the constitution and do justice and protect our people looking around like it’s a nice day.
That can’t happen. Yeah, so I’m proud that we’ve said today we’re not going to tolerate that, that we are going to say we are mad and we’re not going to take it anymore, but we’re going to do it in a constructive way. We’re going to get together and we’re going to call on our law enforcement to charge that man with murder.
There’s some young folks I’ve met in my campaign. I haven’t met all of you. You know what you’re all doing here is exactly what we needed to be doing because nothing’s going to change if we just say, stay from the outside and say, we don’t like this. We don’t like this. That’s the first step, but it’s not the last step.
We know we’re going to have justice when we have people like my mentor and my hero, Lawrence Middleton, when I was a prosecutor in the US Attorney’s office who prosecuted the police who beat Rodney King, that’s my mentor and my hero, a black man who grew up in the South under the the sweltering injustice as they say, racism in Norfolk, Virginia.
You went to Los Angeles, and he prosecuted the officers who beat Rodney King, and he made a difference. He became a lawyer and he stood for justice and he said, justice counts for everybody in this country. Justice doesn’t count just for one race or one group of people.
It counts for everybody. And that was who my boss was, and that’s who I learned from. And I have so much hope that there are people here today that can follow in his footsteps and lead us to the country that we deserve. And the promise, the unmet promises of the Constitution is that Joe Biden said last week, you know, for a lot of time in America, you’ve never lived up to the promise of our founders and our
Let’s be honest, by the way, a lot of them didn’t mean it when they said it.
Thomas Jefferson didn’t mean it when he said, all men are created equal. He meant his kind of men were created equal. But now here we are and we’re ready to redeem that promise of and make those words mean something and that’s why we’re all here together today. So thank you very much.
Let’s make our constitution mean something here. Mean justice, mean freedom, mean equal opportunity for everybody in this country. Thank you.

Message from Adam on Memorial Day

Message from Adam on Memorial Day 2020

Nicole and I are so grateful for the brave men and women who have given their lives so that this great nation might live on.  And as we honor all those who died for our republic, let’s rededicate ourselves to honoring and redeeming their sacrifice by doing all we can to further the ideals of freedom and justice for which they died.

Wishing everyone a happy and meaningful Memorial Day.

Opinion: Ending the Gun Violence Epidemic

Opinion: Ending the Gun Violence Epidemic

The following op-ed by Adam Schleifer has been published in the Harvard Kennedy School Review on May 19, 2020.

Two deadly epidemics threaten the lives of Americans. Both have cost too many of us our loved ones, imposed relentless burdens on our healthcare professionals, and affected all communities, while disproportionately harming communities of color.  The first is a global threat that originated in nature and will take all the scientific prowess and ingenuity we can muster to defeat:  It is, of course, COVID-19.  The second, uniquely American, is a problem of our own making, and can be dispatched with tools that have long stared us square in the face: gun violence.

The United States is an outlier among similarly wealthy, educated countries when it comes to gun violence.  According to Everytown for Gun Safety, the US gun homicide rate is 25 times that of other wealthy countries. Every year, about 38,000 people die from gun violence – or approximately 100 people per day – and nearly 2,900 of these are children and teens. 

And from one vantage, COVID-19 has brought no respite; cities like Chicago and Philadelphia have experienced an uptick in shootings, further straining the cities’ resources and healthcare capacity.  In the time between March 1 and April 19 of this year, we have actually seen a six percent increase in gun violence deaths relative to the same period last year.   Thus, and notwithstanding the many commonsense policy solutions House Democrats have introduced, the Republican Party’s feckless intransigence on issues of gun safety is allowing an already tragic gun epidemic in our country to become even worse.

For me, this issue hits close to home.  When I was a first-grade student in a New York City public school, a classmate brought what I assumed was a toy gun to class.  First, he pointed it toward me, then he pressed it against me, teasing, “bang, you’re dead.”  I soon learned this was no toy—it was a loaded handgun.  Although I was lucky to escape my personal encounter with a gun at school, in my career as a federal prosecutor, I saw firsthand how destructive illegal gun possession and gun violence can be to communities.  And I am proud to have helped take dozens of illegally possessed and illegal guns off of our streets and out of the hands of dangerous criminals.

Gun reform is part of why I am running for Congress.  It has become an inescapable truth that more guns in our communities means more gun-related deaths. I understand the need for the federal government to end the senseless gun tragedies in our schools, movie theatres, and places of worship, and hold all those responsible for these tragedies accountable.

As a Congressman, one of my first acts will be to introduce my gun reform plan: “STOP” (Securing Threats and Ongoing Protection), which contains 5 key policies.

First, we must institute universal background checks for all those seeking to purchase a firearm.  Current loopholes in federal law allow former criminals, domestic abusers, and people prohibited for mental health reasons to access guns from unlicensed sellers. With the support of more than 90 percent of Americans, implementing universal background checks is arguably the lowest hanging fruit of gun legislation.

Second, we must implement a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and other weapons of war that have no place in our communities.  In 1994, the U.S. Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which made it “unlawful for a person to manufacture, transfer, or possess” a semiautomatic assault weapon.  The law expired a decade later, but in that time, research found a significant reduction in gun violence attributable to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Third, we must pass red-flag laws that permit authorities to remove guns from those who are not currently fit, due to mental illness or other instability, to possess those weapons safely.  Today, 19 states have their own versions of red flag laws, including New York, which passed its legislation in 2019 under the leadership of Governor Cuomo.  However, a state-by-state approach to passing red-flag laws is not sufficient. To be successful, it will require federal legislation that applies to all states equally.

Fourth, we must take steps to regulate so-called “ghost guns,” or guns made by individuals using kits or 3D printers.  These guns are particularly dangerous because they are untraceable and anyone, including those prohibited from owning weapons, can make them with ease.  Indeed, as a federal prosecutor, at times I was left powerless to prosecute the possession of dangerous assault weapons from those who made them at home. Neither the bullets nor their victims care whether a dangerous weapon was made in a bedroom or a factory located across state lines, so we must close this glaring loophole.

Finally, as Joe Biden has argued, we must hold gun manufacturers accountable for their contribution to the problem, and ensure they no longer are able to assemble life-destroying weapons with impunity. Current law protects manufacturers from being held civilly liable for their products, a protection that is unique to the gun industry. This protection must end.

As we rally to overcome COVID-19, we should feel empowered to flex the same muscles of pragmatic decisiveness to address the other grave threats to our wellbeing.  Toward the top of that list is a threat entirely of our own making, one that we need no international partners to address:  our own, uniquely-American scourge, the scourge of gun violence.

Opinion: My View – How We Can Reinvigorate Voting and Spur Democratic Participation

Opinion: My View -- How We Can Reinvigorate Voting and Spur Democratic Participation

The following op-ed authored by Adam Schleifer was published in The River Journal on May 18, 2020.


A Republic, if you can keep it—Benjamin Franklin

When Alexis de Tocqueville toured our young nation in 1831, American democratic participation was nothing short of revolutionary to his European eyes.  He noted, “the people reign over the American political world as God rules over the universe.”  And while it should be noted that, due to discriminatory restrictions in the franchise we thankfully recognize today as unjust, a far lower percentage of the total population actually voted then than they do today, it is also fair to say that if the people still reign as a god today, we’re an inattentive, absentee god, at best.

By international standards, our roughly 50 percent voter participation rate is weak.  Perhaps that weakness is a historical legacy of voter suppression; perhaps it’s a sign that our government offers too few solutions to the problems that vex us; perhaps it’s both.  Indeed, in the fifty-seven years since Martin Luther King Jr. uttered these worlds, we might ask whether much at all has changed:

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I believe, however, that the best way for us to ensure a person has something “for which to vote” is, first, to ensure that more people are incentivized and able to cast a vote that counts.  Below, I offer a few observations and proposals to increase the scope of our democracy, which, I hope will also increase its depth and vigor.  And, if elected to Congress in New York’s 17th District, I will work tirelessly to see these provisions written into law, so that nothingnot even a pandemic, can frustrate our democracy.  The below ideas are not the only necessary or good ideas for improving the vigor of the democratic process, but they are a few that appear most achievable and least affected by the spate of recent Supreme Court precedents that have harmed our democratic process.

First, to get more people voting, we should offer a $50 refundable tax credit to everyone who votes in a federal election.  That tax credit would be progressive, because the $50 would represent a greater proportional boost to working and middle class voters than to the wealthiest, while also addressing the economic burden that taking the time to vote imposes on hourly workers and those forced to extend childcare to get to the polls.  I will proudly co-sponsor legislation for such a credit, which would force my Republican colleagues publicly to choose between their stated love of reducing our tax burden and their unstated but apparent love of suppressing voter turnout.

To further boost voter participation and turnout, we must also make Election Day a federal holiday, and join the more than 80 percent of other OECD countries that hold elections on weekends or national holidays.  Additionally, we should provide more funding to states like New York to make voting registration automatic, giving voters the opportunity to “opt out” if they wish to unregister rather than the more cumbersome “opt-in” process we currently have.  Republicans and other critics will argue that such laws will lead to voter fraud, but extensive research debunks that claim.

We should also institute early voting in as many jurisdictions as possible.  By spreading out elections over periods of a week or more rather than just a single day, we permit people the flexibility they need to participate more fully, while reducing the risk of overcrowding that is not only inconvenient, but even dangerous in these times of public-health crisis.  Such a process would also give more time for those with questions or difficulties affecting their registration and ballot-validity to pursue legal redress with judges and other legal officials.

We should also take bold steps to enhance the integrity of our elections.  One way is by setting up independent redistricting commissions in each state to minimize the impact of partisan politics on how we draw state and congressional boundaries.   Currently, eight states have commissions with primary authority over the redistricting lines.  The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision that federal judges cannot oversee state gerrymandering will lead to election bias unless we take the map out of the hands of partisan state legislatures.

Lastly, we must abolish the Electoral College, either through a constitutional amendment or through the National Popular Vote Plan, which I’ve previously published an academic paper on.  Such a plan would allow states to agree with one another to cast their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote, so that the Electoral College would become functionally irrelevant.  Such a change would do a lot to engage citizens in the vast majority of states (including California, Texas, and New York) that presidential candidates now safely ignore, while returning us to the basic principle that every person’s vote should count.

If we can begin to unclog the arteries of democracy in these and other ways, perhaps we can come nearer to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s other vision:  a society that offers good people something “for which to vote.”