Silver vs. Spitzer
January 26th, 2007
The expert panel screening candidates for state comptroller released their list of three finalists yesterday. Expected to include five people, it only had three names – none of them a state legislator. The list probably pleased Governor Eliot Spitzer, enraged Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – and delighted political junkies hankering for a showdown between the new governor and the longtime speaker.
Before the list (city finance commissioner Martha Stark, investment banker and Spitzer ally William Mulrow and Nassau County comptroller Howard Weitzman) was announced, Silver said he expected that at least one of the finalists would be a member of the Assembly. So perhaps not surprisingly, when the names were revealed, Silver indicated he might abandon the screening process to push for someone not on the list.
The legislature officially chooses the comptroller if, as is currently the case, the elected comptroller has left office. And as Empire Zone explains it, Silver’s word “carries the heaviest weight because Assembly Democrats, if they line up behind one candidate, will control the outcome.“
“They can give me whatever they want,” Silver said of the panel. “We don’t have to listen to them.” And Richard Brodsky, one of the assembly members who, until yesterday, had been in the running for the job, told Daily Politics. “We’re in a process that by no means ended today.”
The disgruntled assembly members, Empire Zone says, argue that the process was stacked against legislators, the panel promised five finalists and only came up with three, and that the group’s members – three former comptrollers — demanded experience that they themselves didn’t have themselves when they became comptroller.
One member of the panel, former state comptroller Ned Regan, said the three simply picked the best-qualified candidates. None of the Assembly members seeking the post had enough managerial experience, he told the Times. “They’d never managed anything big,” Regan said.
But the New York Post quotes an anonymous source as saying that “Spitzer spoke to the panel several times yesterday. ‘I think Spitzer lobbied the hell out of them,” the source said.”
The governor’s apparent influence alarms some who question whether the official charged with monitoring the financial workings of state government should be beholden to the person running that government. Someone such as Brodsky, they said, might prove too independent for the governor. “Brodsky is hard to take, but, boy, Spitzer wouldn’t actually want a guy that would actually audit his administration,” wrote an anonymous commentator on Daily Politics.
What happens now? Silver is expected to discuss the situation with the Assembly members, probably on Tuesday. But the speaker is in a quandary, believes Capitol Confidential. Elizabeth Benjamin writes, “He has to choose between bucking his members by kow-towing to the governor or bucking the governor by kow-towing to his members (assuming the majority of them do, in fact, want one of their own to be comptroller). What a glorious mess. “By Gail Robinson on January 26, 2007, 12:38 pm
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