State Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s resignation came as part of a plea deal Hevesi worked out to avoid serving time. As part of the deal, he’ll pay a $5,000 fine, plead guilty to a minor felony and agree to forgo any appeal. And, of course, he won’t be taking office on Jan. 1 after all, despite having handily won re-election this fall.

This is all a good thing and here’s why:

While he started out as a strong champion for the taxpayers, pointing out wasteful spending by public entities and urging caution with taxpayer dollars, somewhere along the way Hevesi forgot to take his own advice. During the recent campaign for re-election, Hevesi’s Republican challenger, J. Christopher Callaghan, released details of Hevesi’s improper use of state personnel. A subsequent investigation into his activities turned up nearly three years of improper use of state employees. The employees were used mainly to drive his chronically ill wife, but others acted as companions and even assisted with physical therapy.

Hevesi justified his actions by saying the manpower was needed to provide security for his wife, but the state police said it was all balderdash. Further, the state Ethics Commission had warned Hevesi three years ago that he needed to pay for the driving services. He neglected to do so until this fall, shelling out $82,000 to the state but maintaining his innocence.

At the same time, Hevesi said he wouldn’t step down and planned to continue his fight for re-election. He did, but the investigation into his affairs continued. The attorney general’s office then insisted that Hevesi had shortchanged the people of New York and insisted he cough up an additional $120,000-plus to cover the hours he’d used.

Hevesi did, though he complained of the cost. Then, in another baffling move, New Yorkers re-elected Hevesi to office. For a while, it looked as if he might skate through the process with his political career intact.

We’re glad to see that didn’t happen. His resignation puts a close to a story of one politician who not only abused his power but also then refused to be held accountable. He used government employees in roles far outside their job description — to make his life easier — and then forced taxpayers to foot the bill. Everyone says Hevesi’s wife is very sick. No one denies that. But it was his job to provide care for her, and not the people of New York’s.

By flagrantly ignoring the mandate handed down from the Ethics Commission, shortchanging New Yorkers on his “reimbursement” and continuing to run for an office he clearly didn’t respect, Hevesi proved that he was a public servant who had forgotten just who was serving whom.

There are enough bad jokes about corrupt politicians. We didn’t need to see one holding office.

With a new year coming, it’s time Hevesi was forced to come clean. Now, it’s time for a new comptroller to step in and start with a clean slate. The people of New York deserve no less.

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