Former IG Cites Historic Nepotism Investigation as Precedent

I am disappointed to hear that the Yonkers Inspector General refuses to take any action in response to the Westchester County District Attorney‘s referral to investigate allegations of nepotism regarding the appointment of Mayor Spano’s family members to positions in city government.

One of the most important institutional and basic roles of an inspector general (IG) is to investigate allegations of wrongdoing in government. The allegation that the mayor may have abused his power in the appointment of his family members to city jobs, clearly falls under the IG’s jurisdiction. The public has a right to know the truth, and the IG should conduct an investigation.

In 2005, when I was the Yonkers IG, there were newspaper reports that the superintendent of schools abused his power by appointing his daughter’s fiancé to the position of provisional senior accountant. Accordingly, the IG’s office conducted a fact-finding investigation. We did not serve as prosecutors; we simply determined the facts surrounding the appointment and issued a detailed public report. Our investigation established that the allegations of nepotism were true, and that the superintendent and school district’s chief financial officer lied about the appointment. As a result, both resigned from their positions after pleading guilty to perjury charges brought by the Westchester District Attorney.

A copy of our 2005 report is available here:

The job of the inspector general is to hold the government to account. By refusing to conduct an investigation into the mayor’s alleged nepotism, IG Liam McLaughlin is abdicating his duty to the public. His statement that “I have knowledge of the civil service law, and among the parties involved, I see no ethical violations,” is meaningless without appropriate fact-finding and analysis, which is incorporated into a published report.

Tellingly, Mr. McLaughlin has not issued a public investigative report in his three years in office. An inspector general should be a watchdog for the taxpayers, not a lapdog for the mayor. It’s time for the Yonkers IG to earn his salary and do his job.

Phil Zisman was the first inspector general in the City of Yonkers serving from 1998 to 2010, and was the Director of the Association of Inspectors General. He briefly served on the Yonkers Board of Ethics, appointed by Mayor Mike Spano.

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