Hevesi was first elected State Comptroller in 2002 and won reelection in 2006. However, he resigned from office effective December 22, 2006, as part of a plea bargain with the Albany County Court, based on his personal use of state employees to care for his ailing wife, in lieu of a grand jury indictment. In February 2007 Hevesi was sentenced to a $5,000 fine and permanently banned from holding elective office again; he received no jail time and no probation. He later pleaded guilty to corruption charges surrounding a "pay to play" scheme regarding the New York State Pension Fund, and was sentenced to 1–4 years on April 15, 2011.
Hevesi's father was Dr. Eugene Hevesi (1896–1983), a Hungarian-born American Jewish leader who served as foreign affairs secretary for the American Jewish Committee and as representative to the United Nations for several Jewish NGOs. His brother Dennis Hevesi, a reporter for The New York Times. His grandfather was Simon Hevesi, Chief Rabbi of Budapest prior to World War II.
Hevesi earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Queens College, CUNY. He received his PhD in Public Law & Government from Columbia University in 1971. The title of his doctoral dissertation was Legislative Leadership in New York State. His dissertation has been archived by University Microfilms International; it carries document number 7201325.
Alan Hevesi and his wife Carol are residents of Forest Hills, Queens, New York. Their sons, New York State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and former New York State Senator Daniel Hevesi, both made their careers in politics.
On November 2, 1971, Hevesi was elected to the New York State Assembly, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Emanuel R. Gold, and took his seat during the special session in December 1971. He was elected to a full term in 1972 and reelected nine more times. He remained in the Assembly until 1993, sitting in the 179th, 180th, 181st, 182nd, 183rd, 184th, 185th, 186th, 187th, 188th, 189th and 190th New York State Legislatures. He rose to chair various committees and be considered a potential Assembly Speaker. Simultaneously (from 1967 to 1993), he was an associate professor of political science at Queens College in Flushing, New York.
He first unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Nomination for City Comptroller in 1989; he was defeated by Brooklyn District Attorney and former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman. In 1993, he came back to challenge Holtzman in the primary, following ethics accusations against Holtzman. Holtzman had taken a questionable loan from Fleet Bank, which Hevesi assailed her on during an NY1 debate. Hevesi was also supported by Geraldine Ferraro, a former Congresswoman and Vice Presidential running mate of Walter Mondale.
Ferraro, upset over Holtzman's 1992 Senate race attack, even went so far as to encourage her candidacy to oppose Holtzman. (Hevesi and Ferraro would later become estranged.) The politically powerful health care union Local 1199, led by Jennifer Cunningham, gave Hevesi its endorsement. Hevesi defeated Holtzman to secure the Democratic nomination. Hevesi then defeated former Congressman Herman Badillo, the Republican candidate in the general election.
By December 1997, Hevesi as Comptroller of the City of New York enlisted the weight and soundness of his City's finances in the cause of forcing Swiss banks to meet the demands of the World Jewish Congress and other organizations then suing Swiss banks over Nazi-era bank balances the WJC said was owing to the heirs of victims of the Holocaust, joined eventually by both then-Mayor of New York City Rudolph Giuliani and then-Governor of New York State George Pataki. In his book on the subject, Norman Finkelstein dubs him "the godfather of Holocaust restitution sanctions."
He recruited the financial officers of many other states and municipalities in the US to similarly place the powers and responsibilities entrusted to them by their employers at the service of this cause, at one point calling them to a conference in his own city at which they discussed ways and means of coordinating their individual actions for maximum effect.
Sanctions took the forms, variously, of withdrawing balances from (the US branches of) Swiss banks, disinvestment in Swiss banks and their various investment vehicles, disinvestment in Swiss companies, and in companies of other nationalities with operations or markets in Switzerland. Hevesi and a number of his accomplices further undertook to deny regulatory permissions to Swiss banks seeking to expand their activities in their jurisdictions.
This effort against Switzerland having seemed successful in securing the $1.25 billion (1999) settlement, Hevesi then brought the power of the ad hoc network he had constructed to bear in subsequent actions against Germany, Austria, and other countries, where its use was deemed successful in raising the amounts of the settlements. He served two terms as New York City Comptroller from 1994-2002, when he was term-limited out of the office.
In 2001, Hevesi sought the Democratic nomination for Mayor of New York, running on the platform of "Most Experienced, Best Qualified". He finished fourth, behind Public Advocate Mark J. Green, Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, and New York City Council Speaker Peter Vallone. Hevesi was the Liberal Party nominee for Mayor in the general election, but did not campaign in the race; instead, he endorsed Green for mayor in the general election. Following his defeat in the mayor's race, Hevesi started his campaign for state comptroller, which he won, defeating Republican John Faso in 2002.
As State Comptroller, Hevesi served as the state's chief fiscal officer and as head of the state Department of Audit and Control. In New York, the comptroller signs state checks, handles state bookkeeping, conducts audits of state and local finances, and issues economic forecasts. The comptroller also serves as the sole trustee of the state pension system, an important role in the investment community based on the value of New York State's investment portfolio.
In November 2006, Hevesi was reelected as New York State Comptroller. On December 22, 2006, CNN reported that "[N]ew York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi entered into a plea agreement which included his immediate resignation Friday to avoid a felony indictment by a New York State grand jury charging him with defrauding the government by having staffers drive his wife and assist her in with personal matters from 2003–2006. Hevesi pleaded guilty to Superior Court Filing of defrauding the government, a Class E felony, and will pay a $5,000 fine. Hevesi admitted the wrongdoing when allegations surfaced in November, and has repaid the state more than $200,000."
In an editorial, The New York Post questioned Hevesi's use of financial advisers as campaign contributors. As City Comptroller he chose the city bond underwriters. According to a New York Post editorial, Hevesi hired a female minority-owned firm, Philadelphia-based P.G. Corbin & Co. Hevesi used discretionary funds in the amount of $1.58 million. Back in 1995, Hevesi's office suspended Corbin for failing to pay $5,900 in city corporate taxes. A Hevesi favored firm, San Francisco-based Grigsby Brandford & Co, was involved in a bribery scandal in 1995. Hevesi, who had been seen as a champion of minority causes, now found himself in a difficult position. He had no comment.
Activist Joyce Shepard of Bayside, New York of the Citizens Action Committee for Change tried to highlight the issue of abused women. She contacted Hevesi's office to investigate. Hevesi issued a critical report on the Giuliani administration. On April 17, 1997, she was at New York City Hall with both Giuliani and Hevesi side by side. They promised more space for victims of domestic abuse. Despite all the promises nothing happened. She went undercover to expose the shortcomings of the shelter system. She criticized both Hevesi and Giuliani. After she was quoted by the Village Voice, Hevesi reportedly phoned her and told her: "Don't you ever call my office about anything again!". The comptroller's office didn't deny the call took place. But a spokesman stated the office is open to anyone who thinks something is going on we should know about.
As state comptroller, Hevesi faced a conflict of interest allegation in relation to a private capital fund named "Markstone", according to a report in the New York Sun. The opening paragraph stated, "The New York State comptroller, Alan Hevesi, encouraged California pension managers to invest in a private capital fund founded by a man whose wife has been a generous donor to his political campaigns." The story originally appeared in The Los Angeles Times.
Hevesi met with his California counterpart, comptroller Steve Westly, and Elliot Broidy of Markstone Capital Group. They met on May 19, 2003, in order to "pitch" the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) to invest in Markstone, a fund that invested in Israeli companies. The Sun reported that in June 2003, Mr. Hevesi invested $200 million in Markstone. Mr. Broidy is a major Republican political contributor. Mr. Broidy did not directly contribute to Hevesi's political campaigns, but his wife, Robin Rosenzweig, had contributed $80,000 since 2002 — $30,000 before the May 2003 meeting and $50,000 afterwards. She also contributed to Andrew Hevesi's state assembly race. On October 7, 2010, Hevesi pleaded guilty to accepting gratuities for steering the investment funds to California venture capitalist Elliot Broidy. Hevesi had accepted $75,000 in trips for himself and his family and $500,000 in campaign contributions, and benefited from $380,000 given to a lobbyist.
At a commencement address he delivered at Queens College on June 1, 2006, Hevesi told his audience that U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) was so tough he would "put a bullet between the President's eyes if he could get away with it." Several hours after his remarks, Hevesi apologized for his comments, calling them " beyond stupid, beyond moronic, totally offensive," and "incredibly moronic."
While attending the New York State Association of Counties conference on September 28, 2006, Hevesi had one of his state employed press aides tape record the speech of his opponent, Christopher Callaghan. On October 2, 2006, allegations arose that Hevesi fired receptionist Alexander McHugh, who filed a charge of sexual harassment. Hevesi's office stated that the receptionist did not cooperate with their investigation into the matter and "...found no evidence of sexual harassment." McHugh filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
On September 21, 2006, Alan Hevesi admitted that he used Nicholas Acquafredda, a state employee and member of Hevesi's security detail, to drive and aid his ailing wife. Hevesi claims that in 2003 the State Ethics Commission decided that he would pay back the entire cost of driving around his wife unless it is for specific safety purposes. A spokesperson from the State Ethics Commission denies such a decision was made.
On September 26, 2006, Hevesi said he would pay the state more than $82,000 for having a public employee chauffeur his wife, after his Republican challenger, Christopher Callaghan, asked the Albany County District Attorney's office to investigate. Callaghan first phoned in the complaint to the State Comptroller's own State funds-abuse/fraud hotline.
Hevesi had admitted the previous week he had not reimbursed the state. Callaghan and the Republican party's nominee for the state governor, John Faso, also called for Hevesi's resignation. The Attorney General (who was seeking the Democratic party's state governor nomination), Eliot Spitzer, withdrew his endorsement of Hevesi. The controversy stimulated interest in the candidacies of Callaghan and minor party candidates Julia Willebrand of the Green Party and John Cain of the Libertarian Party.
Hevesi claimed that the drivers were needed to provide security detail to his wife, though a bipartisan ethics panel concluded that the state police found no threat that justified such an arrangement. The panel also concluded that Hevesi had no intention of repaying the state for the driver services until Callaghan publicly filed a complaint.
On October 12, 2006, Albany County District Attorney David Soares' office acknowledged that it was officially investigating actions by Hevesi regarding the public employee hired to chauffeur his wife.
On October 23, 2006, the "Ethics Commission concluded Hevesi 'knowingly' violated state law."
On November 3, 2006, Hevesi was ordered by the office of state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to pay the state $90,000 — in addition to the $83,000 he has already paid – in compensation for what has been deemed an improper use of a state employee. Hevesi said was just a mistake and apologized in a new TV ad, in which he says, “I'm asking you to weigh my mistake against my 35 years of public service, I'm human...I'm a good comptroller who did a dumb thing."
On December 12, 2006, Hevesi agreed to a deal that calls for the $90,000 in escrow money to be turned over to the state and for him to pay an additional $33,605 within 10 days, making his payback total $206,000. It was revealed that Hevesi had actually hired four, not the two employees initially thought for his wife's 'security detail' and said employees were running personal errands according to the report from the Attorney General Office. On December 13, 2006, a poll conducted between December 5–11 by Quinnipiac showed that 45% of people in New York felt that Hevesi should resign and 43% felt he had paid his debt to the state. 1,144 registered voters in New York were polled with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent.
On December 14, 2006, the Albany County District Attorney acknowledged that he had a strong enough case to indict Hevesi (see beginning of page for judicial resolution). The scandal came to a close in February 2007 when, after pleading guilty in December 2006 to a charge of defrauding the government, Hevesi was sentenced by Judge Stephen Herrick in Albany County Court to a $5,000 fine and barred permanently from elected office. As part of the plea deal, he was given no jail time, and received no probation. Prior to sentencing, Hevesi paid the state more than $200,000 in restitution. He expressed remorse for his actions and told the judge: "I'm culpable, I'm responsible and I apologize."
On October 6, 2009, Raymond Harding, chairman of the Liberal Party of New York, pleaded guilty to charges that he accepted $800,000 from aides to Hevesi when Hevesi was comptroller of the state of New York.
In 2005, Harding had secured employment at the Health Insurance Plan of New York for the incumbent State Assemblyman in District 28 (Queens), who then did not run for reelection so that Hevesi's son, Andrew, could run for State Assemblyman. The younger Hevesi ran successfully and took his seat in the Assembly in 2005. Alan Hevesi thanked Harding for his assistance in his son's election.
Hevesi pleaded guilty to corruption charges and was sentenced to one to four years on April 15, 2011.
He spent his first full day in lockup in the prison infirmary according to the New York Post. State correction officials confirmed that Hevesi was incarcerated at the Mid-State Correctional Facility. He was initially sent to a medical unit at the Ulster Correctional Facility where he was issued a green uniform, a short haircut, and assigned inmate number 11-R-1334.
Hevesi went before a parole board on November 14, 2012 and was released on parole on December 19, 2012. He served twenty months of a maximum four-year sentence.Gittell, Marilyn; Hevesi, Alan G (1969). The Politics of Urban Education. Praeger.
Hevesi, Alan G (1975). Legislative politics in New York State : a comparative analysis. Praeger. ISBN 0-275-05520-5.
"Homophobia: Analysis of a Permissible Prejudice: A Public Forum of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the American Psychoanalytic Foundation". Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy. 4 (1): 5–53. 2001-01-29. ISSN 0891-7140. doi:10.1300/J236v04n01_02. Archived from the original on 2012-12-17.
Hevesi, Alan G. (September 21, 1995). "The Effectiveness Of The NYC Department Of Juvenile Justice's Aftercare Program". Juvenile Justice Digest. 23 (18): 1. ISSN 0094-2413.
Hevesi, Alan G. (July 8, 1999). "New lead paint law protects landlords, not children". New York Amsterdam News. ISSN 0028-7121.
Hevesi, Alan G. (July 9, 1998). "A stand must be taken". USA Today. pp. 11A. ISSN 0734-7456.
Hevesi, Alan G. (April 25, 1987). "When Blacks and Jews Pull Together". The New York Times. p. 1.31. ISSN 0362-4331.