Former assemblyman Michael Cohen left his seat in 2005 and was replaced by the son of then-state comptroller Alan Hevesi, whose office’s alleged role in facilitating the job-swap now figures into an investigation into an alleged pay-to-play scheme.
Cohen was not a target in the indictment announced this morning by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, but the felony complaint against former Liberal Party boss Ray Harding, who is accused of orchestrating the vacancy, will probably not help his campaign for City Council.
According to Cohen’s campaign consultant and spokesman, Michael Tobman, he is staying in the race.
In a brief telephone chat, Tobman told me, “Michael Cohen has been speaking with the attorney general’s office concerning their ongoing investigation into Alan Hevesi’s tenure as state comptroller.
"And those conversations are ongoing. As everyone knows, Michael left the State Assembly to be home with his critically ill wife who sadly passed away not long after,” Tobman said.
When I asked if Cohen was still running for the City Council seat in Forest Hills, Tobman said, “Mike Cohen is still a candidate.”
The seat is being vacated by Melinda Katz, who is running for city comptroller. The other candidates in the race did not immediately return phone calls for comment.
Allegations against several people supposedly involved in the scheme were made public earlier this morning by Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo says Cohen abruptly resigned his Assembly seat and took a six-figure job at an insurance firm with the help of Ray Harding, a Hevesi ally who was also the head of the New York State Liberal Party. Harding then arranged political support for Hevesi’s son, Andrew, to run for the seat, Cuomo said. In exchange, aides to the elder Hevesi, who was the state comptroller, allegedly steered hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state pension fund to Harding for work he was supposed to have done as a "placement agent."
Cuomo told reporters that as far as he knows, Hevesi’s son had no knowledge of the alleged wrong-doing.