Alan Hevesi never seemed like the cheating kind. He had 35 solid years in public service, taught political science, showed up for work on time, kept a clean desk, and didn't take long lunches. He was the perfect employee, with a solid record and a sweet hangdog expression — and now we learn, the perfect crook with conscience black as midnight.
Yesterday the word came down loud and clear. Hevesi is the first statewide official to be charged with wrongdoing by the State Ethics Commission. Citing security concerns, Hevesi had a public employee chauffeur his wife, Carol, around at taxpayer expense to the tune of $82,000.
That screaming sound is your pocketbook crying for mercy. It hurts, doesn't it?
Here are the specific findings of the commission. For those of you who suffered through black dark periods in our nation's history like Teapot Dome and Troopergate, this will merely be another sad example of the malfeasance we've come to expect from our elected officials. For younger readers, some of whom may be casting their first vote this very year, well, your nightmare of civic disillusionment had to begin sometime.
1. Hevesi's security concerns for his wife were illegitimate.
2. When the state police told Hevesi that his wife didn't need a private driver, he ignored them.
3. When Hevesi agreed to reimburse the state, he came up with a sum of $82,688.82, a figure the commission suggests is too low. Moreover, Hevesi's "failure to keep any record that would allow for proper reimbursement suggests that Mr. Hevesi did not intend to reimburse the state."
In Hevesi's defense, his wife is plagued by chronic back pain; has undergone a series of surgeries, including open-heart surgery; and suffers from severe depression. But this isn't about her, is it, Alan?
Hevesi released this statement: "I made a mistake," he said. "I am deeply sorry. I offer no excuses. I will continue to cooperate fully with any inquiry. I ask New Yorkers for their understanding and hope they will judge me on the basis of my performance as comptroller and my 35-year record of public service."
Hevesi's reelection this year is likely. As a low-profile officeholder on a Democratic slate, he is almost certain to keep his job. Yes, he's being investigated by the man at the top of the ticket, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, and may have to resign upon winning. But his ability to slip underneath detection of the public at large is in keeping with his criminal pathology. Did Hevesi seek a position most people don't know exists as the perfect nest from which to hatch his plans? Were his many years in the State Assembly, failed run for mayor, and years as city comptroller all part of a plot to reach a perch just high enough to do evil but just low enough that no one would notice?
Read the report. [New York State Ethics Commission]
Ethics Panel Raps Hevesi [NYDN]