OCTOBER 24, 2006
For the first time in its history the New York Ethics Commission has charged a statewide official with wrongdoing and the honor goes to the state’s chief fiscal watchdog, Alan Hevesi, for illegally using public employees to chauffeur his wife.
The Queens Democrat, who is running for reelection as guardian of the state’s finances, spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a private chauffeur for his wife for more than three years. He paid some of the money back after the abuse was reported to the commission and tried justifying the violation by claiming that his wife needed a taxpayer-financed driver for security reasons.
The Ethics Commission didn’t buy it and in a scathing 26-page report concluded that Hevesi violated public trust because he knowingly and intentionally used his position as New York State Comptroller to secure unwarranted privileges for himself and his wife.
Threats to Hevesi’s wife never existed and the commission cites a 2003 New York State Police “threat assessment” report that found Carol Hevesi’s safety was never at stake. The thorough evaluation was conducted by a topnotch and high-ranking police investigator who specializes in evaluating threats against public officials.
Besides this outright abuse of public trust and funds, Hevesi is also the subject of a separate criminal investigation by the Albany County District Attorney’s office. Albany officials refuse to divulge details of the investigation, but have acknowledged that Hevesi is a key figure.
This should be of great concern to New Yorkers since the State Comptroller wields tremendous power. He is in charge of a $140 billion pension fund, approves all state contracts and audits state and local governments. Can Hevesi really be trusted to perform these duties legally and ethically? Not if you believe one blog that calls him a mild-mannered crook Democrat.
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