Monday, October 02, 2006

Driving Mrs. Bush-Deranged

There’s a political scandal brewing in New York, which surprisingly has not received much attention out of state or in the blogosphere. State Comptroller Alan Hevesi made national news when he suggested Sen. Charles Schumer should shoot President Bush between the eyes during a Bush-Deranged commencement address. Now, Hevesi’s ethical judgment has been called into question with the revelation that state taxpayers have been footing the bill for a driver for Hevesi’s wife.

Hevesi’s defenders have tried to use his wife’s disability as an excuse for misappropriating state resources for the Hevesi’s personal use. While one can sympathize with Ms. Hevesi’s circumstances, the state Ethics Commission expressly warned Mr. Hevesi:

“When legitimate security concerns are not present, or when the function is unrelated to your official business, you should refrain or reimburse the state for any costs incurred for the use of state resources.”

That was in May of 2003—a full three years ago. Hevesi ignored the warning, until the media started paying attention. Now he is promising to stroke a check to the state for $83,688.82. Amazingly, Hevesi still did not seem to get the underlying issue, as the NY Daily News busted Hevesi for using a state employee to do campaign work while on the public dime, just days after the driver scandal broke. The worker was recording a public address of his Republican challenger. The Daily News reports Hevesi's response:

Asked about the aide doing political work on government time, Hevesi responded, "Now that you've pointed it out to me - I didn't realize it - I'll pay for that tape."

Hevesi spokesman David Neustadt said the employee will take personal time for the day.

When news of his inappropriate commencement humor made headlines, Hevesi himself described his comments as “beyond dumb.” Now, Hevesi’s judgment as well as his temperament for office, are both under question.

It looks to be a rough election for Republicans in New York, but Hevesi’s opponent, J. Christopher Callaghan has scored a direct hit by exposing the “Driving Ms. Hevesi” scandal. With a solid record as Saratoga County Treasurer, his Irish wit, and natty bowtie, Callaghan has long been a hit over at Urban Elephants (which dubbed the emerging scandal “Driving Mrs. Hevesi”). He looks to be the best and only hope for the GOP in New York this year. Surely, our state deserves better than “Beyond Dumb” as State Comptroller.