Approaching First 100 Days in Office, DiNapoli Outlines Tough Plan
to Clean Up Remnants of Scandal
Intensifies Cooperation with Albany D.A. Soares in Hevesi Probe
State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, who took office three months ago following former Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s resignation and felony conviction, today announced the next phase of his on-going strategy to prevent abuse of state resources. DiNapoli has already taken several steps to strengthen internal controls at his agency including the creation of the Management Review Commission – headed by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and long-time finance and government expert Frank Zarb – to review Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) practices and policies.
“The Hevesi scandal cast a cloud over thousands of honest, hard working OSC employees,” DiNapoli said. “More tragically, it has violated the trust of every New Yorker.
“Since I took office in February, my priority has been to restore public confidence in this agency,” DiNapoli said. “The Koch-Zarb Commission has provided several recommendations to achieve that goal. My first Executive Order placed strict ethics guidelines on all employees. Today is another step forward.”
DiNapoli noted that his office has been cooperating with Albany County District Attorney David Soares for the past three months. Soares is investigating alleged improprieties that occurred during Hevesi’s tenure involving Jack Chartier, Hevesi’s chief of staff, and persons with business dealings with OSC.
“District Attorney Soares is conducting a thorough, deliberative investigation that adheres strictly to the rule of law,” DiNapoli said.
In addition to the steps announced today, DiNapoli said that OSC had retained Mintz Levin, an independent law firm, to audit and review all activities of Jack Chartier during Chartier’s employment at OSC. Bridget Rohde, former chief of the criminal division of the United States Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, will oversee the review. The firm will share its findings with D.A. Soares.
“We’re working with D.A. Soares to identify any criminal behavior that occurred before I took office. But that is not enough. I’m raising the bar. This office must set and keep the very highest standard for ethical behavior. I will settle for nothing less.”
The Comptroller’s plan includes:
- Appointment of an Inspector General to continually monitor and review the activities of the Comptroller and all agency employees, and operate a hotline for anonymous tips. The IG will have the authority and responsibility to report any legal or ethical violations to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The appointment of an Inspector General is one of the recommendations presented by the Koch-Zarb Commission created by DiNapoli earlier this year.
- Appointment of a senior level Ethics Counsel to provide legal opinions, receive complaints regarding OSC employees’ ethics, and develop and implement a comprehensive ethics training program for all OSC employees.
- Establishment of a new system of internal controls for the Comptroller and all executive staff. New policies and procedures will cover the use of staff resources, deployment of security personnel, travel and correspondence. If these internal controls had been in place, the Hevesi scandal could have been avoided.
- Transmittal of the DiNapoli’s Comptroller Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2007, announced last week. The legislation would help establish a level playing field for all candidates running for State Comptroller. DiNapoli has already announced he will follow Governor Spitzer’s example and impose a voluntary limit on campaign contributions. The Campaign Finance Reform Act would put those limits into statute and provide public campaign financing to help eliminate the pernicious effect of exorbitant campaign contributions.
“We can’t change what happened during the prior administration, but I can change what will happen during my administration,” DiNapoli said.