Yonkers Inspector General Liam McLaughlin has rejected a call to investigate possible nepotism and corruption in government calling it, “political silly-season accusations.”
After an explosive report from David McKay Wilson on April 26th in Journal News/Lohud, many in Yonkers called for an investigation. The report, which was picked up by the NY Post, outlines at least 14 members of Mayor Mike Spano‘s family that are employed by the city.
Calls to investigate
The first to call for oversight was the city’s original Inspector General and former Board of Ethics member, Phil Zisman. In his opinion piece on April 27th, Zisman outlines the duties of both the office of Inspector General and the Board of Ethics. He ultimately questions the utility–and massive budget–of these offices if they shun their investigative responsibility.
The next call for oversight came from a local political activist group, NYCD16 Indivisible. This group sent a letter to Westchester District Attorney, Mimi Rocah, in an effort to bypass the dormant ethics watchdogs in Yonkers. However, since no exact crimes were defined in their request, the DA sent the request back to Yonkers government and also to the New York State Comptroller.
Read the full letter sent by the DA to the IG
The current Inspector General, Liam McLaughlin was appointed by Mayor Spano. This was shortly after McLaughlin lost his re-election bid for City Council President. McLaughlin’s former campaign manager and sister-in-law to the Mayor, was named Executive Director of the Yonkers Industrial Development Agency.
The IG will not investigate
McLaughlin’s response to a follow-up article from David McKay Wilson was curt. He will not commence an investigation into potential nepotism in the Spano’s hiring an promotion practices saying, “I have knowledge of civil service law, and among the parties involved, I see no ethical violations.”
The request from Mimi Rocah‘s office was also sent to the Yonkers Board of Ethics and State Comptroller. The board of ethics, like the IG, is appointed by the mayor. It meets quarterly and only has four of the seven members defined in the City Charter. It has not yet responded to request for an investigation. Thomas DiNapoli, the Comptroller, states that his office “encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse.” And we have now learned that numerous locals in Yonkers are following that guidance and will file confidential complaints on this matter–some with very specific allegations.
While some, like McLaughlin, may chalk this up to political posturing, this is not the first time the mayor has been under fire for alleged nepotism. In 2018 he was accused of unjustly promoting his cousin in the Yonkers Fire Department. And again a year later in the Yonkers Police Department. While there is an election this year, it was the mayor himself who signed a law extending his own term limits to run again. So, as a lifelong career politician, Mike Spano knows the scrutiny of the press. And as his father–former Westchester Clerk Leonard Spano–would reportedly say of his own suspected nepotism, “I’ll take the hit in the news in exchange for the 20-year pensions.”