During an election debate, State Comptroller Alan Hevesi said he would not resign after the State Ethics Commission found he violated state law by having a state driver chauffeur his wife. Hevesi made what the NY Times called "a spirited and at times emotional defense tha was alternately apologetic and defiant." He also continued to claim there were security threats against his wife - hence the need for a driver - threats the State Ethics Commission found to be non-existent.
Republican challenger Chris Callaghan emphasized the findings from the ethics report (which also noted that the driver wasn't part of a security detail anyway, that Hevesi never intended to pay the state back for the driver's services and may have even underpaid), “That’s a serious ethical failing. And it has destroyed your credibility." Hevesi pointed out Callaghan's own spotty records as Sarasota County treasurer, but, really, Hevesi is the damn State Comptroller. Look at what the State Comptroller's responsibilities are - "Reviewing State contracts, payrolls and payments before they are issued." The whole matter is just deflating and disappointing, because Hevesi has done a good job on most everything else.
Much of the debate centered around Hevesi's controversy. Callaghan, who the Daily News called "Knot Ready for Prime Time" (he wears bow-tiess) because of an underwhelming performance, told reporters, "I was pleased to moderate the debate between [New York 1 News anchor] Dominic Carter and Alan Hevesi. I think I did very well."
Attorney General and likely next Governor Eliot Spitzer will most likely withdraw his endorsement of Hevesi. Scuttlebutt is that Governor Pataki will ask the State Senate to start proceedings to remove Hevesi from office, with the Governor's office looking for replacement candidates. And a blast from the past: Hevesi broke the law when he used sirens on his car to get to a press interview in 2001.
Photograph of Hevesi during last night's debate by Keith Bradford/AP