If someone told you that an elected official had used campaign contributions to pay for lawyers to defend him against a criminal investigation brought on by corruption charges, you’d probably expect that official to be in even more trouble than he was to begin with.

But because we live in New York, you’d be wrong.

According to the Daily News, State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who is in the middle of a controversy surrounding his use of public funds to pay for his wife’s chauffer, has used $750,000 of campaign funds on criminal defense fees.

Why is this legal?

The Daily News reports:A 1989 advisory opinion by the state Board of Elections…is that campaign dollars can be used to pay legal fees if the case “arises out of the holding of public office.”This is only one of the more outrageous loopholes in a truly atrocious campaign finance system. See our own Suzanne Novak’s op-ed earlier this year on these types of personal use abuses.

We urge the Legislature to act in the spirit of Governor-elect Spitzer’s recent executive actions and pass real campaign finance legislation that includes a public financing system, dramatically lower contribution limits, stronger disclosure laws, and enhanced enforcement.

Categories: General, Campaign Finance