Watching the Watchdog

The state comptroller of New York has enormous power over the investment of the Empire State’s $129 billion pension fund. That’s why the scandal over Alan Hevesi’s tainted stewardship of the office deserves as much attention as the various scandals that have overtaken the Paterson administration.

Last week, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo obtained a guilty plea from David Loglisci, who was the chief investment officer in the comptroller’s office during Mr. Hevesi’s tenure, from 2003 to 2006. Mr. Loglisci said that he turned over key financial decisions to Hank Morris, Mr. Hevesi’s political adviser, who allegedly collected millions in placement fees. Mr. Morris has been indicted on corruption charges.

The scandal here is not that the comptroller’s office used a middleman to help with investment decisions, nor is it that pension funds were invested with firms such as Quadrangle Group LLC and the Carlyle Group. The issue is how individuals connected with Mr. Hevesi allegedly corrupted legitimate practices for their own enrichment.

Thomas Di Napoli, who succeeded Mr. Hevesi, has installed several reforms, including a prohibition on using placement agents and lobbyists in the investment process. If Mr. Cuomo’s investigation continues to reveal flaws in the management of New York’s pension investments, they should be corrected, quickly.

It would be wrong, however, to conclude that the comptroller’s office requires drastic renovations. At the moment, New York politics and government are in more than enough disarray. The governor is a lame duck whose continued tenure remains an open question. Albany doesn’t need another distracted statewide official, which is exactly what Mr. Di

Napoli would become if he were asked to overhaul his office and duties.

Fix what’s broken, and move on.