A Hevesi Heresy

Daring to doubt the governor's wisdom

  Driving Miss Libby

As governor, George Pataki has never skimped on providing help and protection for his own family—regardless of who picks up the tab.

Take the case of Edward Keegan, a retired New York City police officer who first went to work for Pataki in 1993, when the soon-to-be-elected governor was still a state senator from Peekskill. Keegan, who is 6-foot-4 and lives about 10 miles from Pataki's home in Garrison, acknowledged last week that some of his chores back then as a $1,200-a-month part-time senate staff aide included driving Pataki and his wife, Libby. After Pataki was elected, Keegan remained on the state payroll for the next decade, almost all of it as a special assistant to the commissioner of the New York State Office of General Services, the agency responsible for managing state buildings, procuring supplies, and various "support services." The ex-cop did well. His salary in 1995 was $64,415; when he retired in March 2005, his official pay rate was $95,000 annually, although his total earnings including overtime over the last three years averaged $102,000.

Hevesi meets the press.
photo: Keith Bedford
Hevesi meets the press.

Details

Editor's note:
George Pataki has run a scandal-ridden administration for 12 years, without the slightest punishmentóand yet he and his party are calling Alan Hevesi to task about ethics. This week, Tom Robbins and Wayne Barrett unravel the governor's own misdeeds.

Keegan, 68, declined last week to say exactly what he did in his state job. But five separate sources—all of them Republicans with lengthy histories of service to Pataki and the state GOP—told the Voice that Keegan was one of several state and political-party aides who appeared to spend most of their time tending to the needs of the governor's wife and family around their home in upstate Garrison.

Reached at his home in Putnam Valley last week, Keegan initially agreed that his tasks were similar to those of Comptroller Alan Hevesi's aides, whose chores for Hevesi's wife have sparked a pre-election tumult and an unprecedented push by Republicans to boot the comptroller from office for ethics law violations.

"That's somewhat right," Keegan said. "I don't do it anymore. I am retired. I would suggest if you really want to get the poop, go to OGS," he said, referring to his old agency.

Keegan later called back and denied driving Libby Pataki at all. "She was never in any car other than a trooper's car," he said, although he acknowledged that he did accompany the governor's wife to events if so ordered.

Keegan didn't deny what one source said, that he had a state car and a state credit card. That's in contrast to the Hevesi aide, who used the comptroller's family car and credit card to escort Mrs. Hevesi.

A spokeswoman for Keegan's former agency said she could not comment on personnel matters.

According to a lawyer who was in the Pataki inner circle at the time, Keegan started out driving for both Pataki and his wife but was later reassigned to work for only Libby Pataki. "I knew he was the driver," said the source. "Keegan regarded it as a demotion when he was switched to Libby."

A former Pataki aide said Keegan often drove with Libby Pataki and her state trooper bodyguard to events in New York City, and sometimes waited in the car outside.

After driving Libby Pataki for the first couple of years of the administration, however, according to two GOP insiders, Keegan had a dispute with Pataki's friend and top state police aide Daniel Wiese, who was then overseeing security for the governor. As a result, Keegan was shifted again, this time to driving Pataki's mother, Margaret, according to the sources.

"When the mother came to the State of the State speeches in Albany, Keegan would sit in the chamber next to her. Otherwise he was rarely seen in Albany," said one insider.

If Keegan did spend much of his time devoted to helping the governor's family, he wasn't the only one.

Last year, the New York Post revealed that the state's Republican Party was paying $50,000 a year to a woman to serve as Libby Pataki's "maid and personal valet." GOP officials acknowledged that Michelle Stubbs had been detailed to work with the governor's wife since 1999 and that she handled scheduling appointments and political-party affairs for the state's first lady. But local merchants told reporters that Stubbs shopped weekly for groceries for the governor's family, and Republican officials later conceded that Stubbs had "on occasion" driven meals prepared by staff at the Albany governor's mansion to Pataki's Hudson River home 100 miles away.

"We were calling it 'McMansion'—the source of state-funded takeout for the governor," one pol quipped to the Post.

Campaign filings by the state GOP showed that Stubbs received more than $40,000 in expense reimbursements, sometimes as high as $3,800 a month. The payments were listed on the forms as being for "travel, mail, and dinner" or "travel and office," but their purpose has never otherwise been explained. Stubbs also managed to obtain a $47,000-a-year post for her 25-year-old son working with the state Department of State. According to a former agency official and Pataki insider, the son was hired as an athletics activity assistant after it was requested by the "second floor"—a reference to the governor's office in Albany.


Nor was Stubbs the first person assigned by the party to help the governor's wife. A woman named Janine Robinson was plucked out of the state's Office of General Services, where she had been working, and placed on the party's payroll to carry out similar full-time duties for Mrs. Pataki in 1995 and 1996, earning $44,500 over two years, Republican officials acknowledged last year.

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