RICHIE KESSEL: POSTER BOY FOR ETHICS REFORM
One day when historians of New York State look back on the 20th century, they may debate who was the most and least effective Governors, most corrupt legislator and best Senate Majority Leader and shrewdest Assembly Speaker. But it is likely there will be little debate as to the most investigated State official in the last 30 years: Richie Kessel. To give Kessel’s legacy its due, let’s recognize that Kessel has been investigated during the Pataki, Spitzer, Paterson and Cuomo Administrations.
Whether at LIPA or NYPA, the one constant has been investigations of Kessel. Even now as his inglorious career lurches to its long overdue denouement, Kessel is being investigated simultaneously for potentially unethical behavior at two separate State authorities. Street Corner Conservative believes this achievement is unprecedented in the history of the Empire State. Indeed, it is possible that when Kessel takes his leave of State service he will remain under investigation by the Cuomo Administration Inspector General for his actions at two separate authorities in two decades.
Lest future generations not recognize Kessel’s lifetime achievements in ethical investigations, Street Corner points out that Kessel was previously investigated by a Democratic Comptroller for his actions at LIPA and received well-deserved criticism for bypassing its own bidding requirements when it paid a Republican consulting firm $45 thousand to conduct “political polls.” Later, he was investigated by the Inspector General in the Paterson Administration.
Since Kessel partisans may claim their benefactor was a victim of partisan politics, it is critical to note that each of the four investigations was undertaken by a Democratic official.
While the State Legislature considers the Governor’s much needed ethics reform bill in the closing days of this legislative session, I call upon the NYPA board to investigate promptly the following Kessel issues:
1) whether at Kessel’s direction health insurance was improperly provided to a NYPA trustee;
2) whether Kessel improperly sole sourced any of the scores of such contracts;
3) whether donations to Long Island organizations of hundreds of thousands of dollars were improper because they were unrelated to NYPA’s mission; and
4) whether Kessel violated any State laws, including the various public authority reform acts, regulations and NYPA policies.