Alan Hevesi must go

The Brooklyn Paper
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State Comptroller Alan Hevesi must resign. Hevesi, who is accused of using state employees to drive his wife, continues to defend himself against the charge that he has violated the public trust.

True, the charge against Hevesi is ultimately not about vast sums of taxpayer money. The cost of all the chauffeur service for the missus amounted to $83,000, he says, which he has paid back.

He has also apologized, and said his failure to pay back the state earlier was an oversight.

An oversight? As the state’s top fiscal watchdog, it is Hevesi’s job to catch just such “oversights.” The main issue is that he has betrayed the public trust and must go.

This newspaper has taken a consistent stance against politicians who can’t even rise to New York State’s astoundingly low ethics. Months ago, we called for Assemblyman Roger Green to resign after it emerged that he had bilked taxpayers for thousands of dollars in travel expenses.

And we also condemned then-Assemblyman Clarence Norman for similar offenses, even though a larger corruption investigation by the Brooklyn district attorney had yet to bear fruit.

Now, like the indefensible Green and Norman, it turns out that the state comptroller has treated our coffers like some kind of personal piggybank.

More and more Democrats are withdrawing their support for the embattled comptroller. Even his chief supporter, the likely governor Eliot Spitzer, is reconsidering his endorsement.

That’s heartening because we’ve always felt that the state’s chickenhouse should not necessarily be guarded by a fox of the same party. When Republican governor Nelson Rockefeller ruled Albany, he had Democratic Comptroller Arthur Levitt to keep him in check. Similarly, Democrats Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo had Ned Regan as a counterweight. Carl McCall, a Democrat, played the same role during part of Pataki’s first term.

If Spitzer becomes governor, a weakened Hevesi would be a poor watchdog.

For that reason alone, we endorse Hevesi’s Republican rival, Chris Callaghan, who has served most recently as the Saratoga County treasurer.

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