Spitzer May Withdraw Support For Hevesi As Candidates Gear Up For Debate
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Democratic candidate for governor Eliot Spitzer said Tuesday he is reevaluating his endorsement of fellow Democrat Alan Hevesi in light of the state ethics report released Monday that said the state comptroller broke the law by not paying back taxpayer money spent on a chauffeur for his wife.
"All I can say is that I'm re-evaluating my position in that race and the facts in the report are deeply troubling and very difficult for us to read," said Spitzer.
Spitzer previously stood by Hevesi, using the comptroller's support as a seal of approval of his own fiscal plans.
Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno also called on the embattled comptroller to resign, saying his actions represent "a serious breach of public trust."
In the report released Monday, the State Ethics Commission concluded "there is reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Hevesi knowingly and intentionally used his position as New York state comptroller to secure unwarranted privileges for himself and his wife."
Hevesi apologized and paid back more than $82,000 to the state, but he could still be fined, suspended or even removed from office. That decision will be made by the state legislature.
Hevesi and his Republican challenger Christopher Callaghan will meet for their first debate Wednesday night on NY1's "Inside City Hall" at 7 p.m.
Callaghan spurred the ethics commission investigation of Hevesi, saying Hevesi betrayed the public trust. The GOP underdog appeared on "Inside City Hall" Monday night.
"The restitution is insufficient," he said. "The ethics committee has really reiterated the things I've been saying all along. I think the only conclusion that any of us can draw is that it's time for Mr. Hevesi to go."
State officials had told Hevesi, he could have had security drive his wife, who is ill, for free, but only if an independent analysis showed she needed it. He never followed through with that.
The Albany D.A. is also investigating possible criminal charges against Hevesi.
Despite the controversy, a recent Quinnipiac Poll shows Callaghan trailing Hevesi by 27 percentage points.
Ethics Commission Says Hevesi Violated State Law