Thursday, October 26, 2006

New York Comptroller Accused of Ethics Violation

The New York State Ethics Commission issued a report accusing Comptroller Alan Hevesi of misusing state resources for his own benefit.  The report comes only two weeks before the election.  The violation centers on his use of a state chauffeur for his wife, purportedly because of "threats" that were never substantiated, and a low-ball repayment to the state for the benefits.  According to the report (here):

The relevant facts are not in dispute. The record demonstrates that Mr. Hevesi, as both City Comptroller and State Comptroller, used a government employee under his supervision to provide transportation for his wife. In each instance, he did not make  reimbursement until the issue became a matter of public concern. As he acknowledges, no records exist at OSC upon which an accurate accounting for those services can be made. Because Mr. Hevesi’s recent $82,688.82 reimbursement is based in its entirety on the recollection and rough estimates of Acquafredda [the chauffeur], the Commission cannot endorse this estimate.  In fact, the Commission believes that this estimate understates the cost of all State services provided to Mrs. Hevesi. Moreover, the OSC’s failure to keep any record that would allow for proper reimbursement suggests that Mr. Hevesi did not intend to reimburse the State.

The record in this case does not support Mr. Hevesi’s assertion that there was a nexus between his role as Comptroller and any threats to Mrs. Hevesi’s safety. There were no threats of any kind to Mrs. Hevesi, and any threats to Mr. Hevesi, to the extent they existed, did not warrant special protection for Mrs. Hevesi.

A Rochester Democrat & Chronicle article (here) notes that Hevesi defended himself at a debate, citing his wife's poor health and noting that any threat against him was also a threat to his family.  His opponent in the Comptroller election, J. Christopher Callaghan, has called for Hevesi to resign.  Governor George Pataki will decide soon whether to initiate impeachment proceedings.  Quite a way to move into the last days of a campaign.  (ph)

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