Thursday, October 26, 2006

AP Misses the Big Story

Devlin Barrett of the AP filed another pre-post-mortem of New York Republicans last night at 9:04 pm. A mere two hours before Barrett’s filing, a leading statewide Democrat facing potential impeachment pleaded for voters’ forgiveness, but there is no mention of this scandal that has rocked Albany in the AP story. Yes, most expect the Clinton and Spitzer to rack up impressive victories at the top of the ticket. However, as Barrett declines to report, over the last two weeks it has been state Democrats who have found themselves divided and angst-ridden over how to deal with the scandal of one of their own: State Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

On Monday, the State Ethics Commission dropped a bombshell, releasing their report confirming Hevesi broke the law by assigning state workers to chauffeur his wife. The report concluded that Hevesi had no valid security concerns to justify such an assignment, despite trying to inappropriately influence a state risk assessment. Given the absence of time sheets and other documentation, the report concludes Hevesi had no intention of making restitution before he was caught.

Gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer, running on a vague, feel-good platform of reform, has been knocked completely off message. Initially Spitzer defended Hevesi, calling him “an honest, stupendous public servant.” Now the Times reports:

"An aide to Mr. Spitzer said that it looked increasingly likely that he would withdraw the endorsement. 'Barring a compelling rationale from Hevesi, it’s likely he’ll be withdrawing his support,' said a high-ranking official with the Spitzer campaign who was granted anonymity so he could discuss the sensitive issue."

Spitzer is not the only uncomfortable Democrat. Attorney General candidate Andrew Cuomo committed to prosecute Hevesi if the Ethics Commission were to forward his case to his office. Now he expects to assume control of an office with an active investigation pending against Hevesi. Spitzer’s running-mate, David Patterson faces the possibility of casting an up or down vote on Hevesi’s impeachment in the State Senate. All Democratic candidates are fielding unwelcome questions on Hevesi.

In the last two weeks, Republican morale in New York has surged. Barrett might have noticed that if he had done a little reporting, but that might have contradicted his preconceived notion.